Limerick Leader GAA columnist Martin Kiely highlights the things he would like to see happening in Limerick GAA in 2013.
A new year brings new hopes and new ambitions and I am sure those who follow gaelic games in Limerick will be hoping that the barren spell without success will finally come to an end in 2013.
As a county we have been starved of success and below are just some of my wishes for the year ahead. I can only imagine what the conversations must have been like as the Limerick hurling supporters left Croke Park in 1973 but, never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that forty years would pass and still no return visit for the Liam McCarthy Cup.
Like all supporters in Limerick I hope this year is a one of real progress for our hurlers and footballers. Yes, we have competed well enough over the past couple of years but we must make some serious advancement this year at all levels. Huge amounts of money are being spent training teams but the time has come for a return on such investment. Mental pictures play a huge part in the progress of sports people and I wonder what pictures are in the minds of all our hurlers and footballers in Limerick at this time.
That the Limerick hurlers get promotion to Division 1A
The Limerick senior hurlers are once again in Division 1B of the National League and this is such a great pity. The big showdown for them is the meeting with Dublin in March and what most likely will be another meeting in the final of this league.
Our senior hurlers have to secure promotion and make sure they are mixing it with the big boys. The pace and testing nature of playing against the bigger teams in the league provides the ideal conditions for testing just how good players are. Some may well be of the view that Limerick have a settled team but I feel we still have to fill a few key positions and others will have to raise their game to a higher level if we are to have any hope of real success in the year ahead.
The National League last year told us that Limerick were far from fit for the challenges that came their way and I really do hope that we don’t see a repeat of that over the next few months. Players have to work very hard but the culture of training sets the desire and from here great things can be achieved. I have a fair idea where Dublin hurlers are at the moment and I am expecting a huge effort from them over the next few months. They know they went over physical last year and forgot about their hurling, Anthony Daly has learned from that and this time round he is holding the rope again and not letting the trainers dictate the policy.
That the Limerick hurlers beat Tipp and reach Munster final
One of the biggest days I am looking forward to this year is when Limerick host Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds in what will be a huge game.
The prize for the winner is a place in the Munster Final and that to me would be telling progress for Limerick. Having this game at home is massive for Limerick but the challenge will be huge.
Tipperary are now managed by Eamon O’ Shea and having watched them training in recent times you can be sure the approach will be very different from what we saw in the closing stages of last year’s championship. My main goal for the senior hurling team this year is that they make the next step, win promotion and, most of all, land a crucial championship blow and secure a place in the Munster Final. John Allen said to his team after they lost to Kilkenny last year that he would be raising the bar this year, he expected all to be ready for battle, time will only tell us the impact of his rallying words.
That the Limerick footballers get a lucky break at last
I have for many years admired the Limerick senior footballers; they have given supporters some great days out and on many occasions came so close to winning silverware or causing huge upsets.
Many of the team have given great service and all too often this group of players don’t get the same sort of admiration as the hurlers. The last couple of years have seen their form in the National League fall way below what they are able to produce in the championship and it’s very important that they make some progress in Division 4 of the National League this year.
Last year saw them play the league without many first choice players due to injury but if they are to have any success in getting out of what is a very difficult division then all hands and feet will have to be on board. If Limerick could manage to bring only a third of the desire they showed against Kildare last year to the league this year then I feel they will have a great chance of winning promotion.
They did not enjoy a very good start to the championship last year when they lost to Clare, a game they should never have lost, but I think some hard lessons were learned on the night. This year they have Cork at the Gaelic Grounds and I don’t think they will be found wanting for this game.
I have a fair idea of the sort of stuff the footballers have been doing in recent times and what they have planned and I like the approach they are taking. The players and management are working well together and they are setting targets to drive Limerick football forward. I do hope they get the breaks they deserve this year.
That the Limerick U-21 hurlers achieve their potential
The team with the greatest ambition this year must be the Limerick U-21 hurlers, now managed by a man who has longed to operate at this level, TJ Ryan.
This is his big chance as he has a superb group of young hurlers at his disposal who are capable of winning an All Ireland. I am looking forward to seeing how this team will play and what progress they will make. Former players don’t always cut the mustard at management as history has shown in Limerick but can TJ be different?
That the Limerick minor hurlers make progress
One of the hardest championships to win is the minor and in this regard Limerick has found it very hard to progress to the Munster final. Progress has been made in recent years as Limerick has been much more competitive.
Brian Ryan is the new manager but this could be a two year project as many of the team will have another year at minor. I feel this team has a great chance but a bit of luck is so important at this level and the one wish I would like to see come through is that we reach a Munster Final in this grade.
That we see strong leadership from new chair Oliver Mann
At the recent County Board Convention new faces took their seats at the top table and it will be interesting to see how they will operate at this level.
Will they sit back like many before them and follow the coat tails or will they lead? Oliver Mann is the new Chairman and I hope he takes the county in a new direction. He will only be able to do that if he makes hard calls and provides real leadership. He was uncontested for the position and is not beholding to anyone and I expect him to drive Limerick forward.
That PR in Limerick improves massively from where it is
One of the big disappointments in Limerick GAA compared to others is the poor state of PR. This area needs a major shakeup. Huge work needs to be done to meet the demands of the supporters all over the world.
That your club can enjoy success on the playing field
It’s the start of another year and I would love to think that many of the great traditional clubs in Limerick would return to the winner’s enclosure.
For many of them the time for talking is over, many a championship is won in the pub at this time of year but sadly it will always be someone else’s fault, like the manager, trainer or the club. One win can change a year; answer the call of the club. A successful club is a massive boost to any community
That people return to their clubs in some shape or form
My final wish for the year is that those who have given so much in the past to clubs but, for one reason or another have left the club, will return in some shape or form.
Every club in Limerick needs extra hands and there is a place for everyone in a GAA club.
Enjoy the year ahead.