LIMERICK football captain Seanie Buckley attempts to lift a National League trophy for the second time this Saturday.
BACK in 2010 Limerick lifted a national trophy in Croke Park’s Hogan Stand.
Dromcollogher-Broadford’s Seanie Buckley was the Limerick captain that evening as Waterford were beaten in the Division Four National League final.
Three years later, Limerick are back at the same stage when they play Offaly this Saturday (5.00) in Croke Park.
“It was mostly the fault of the players that we needed up back in Division Four so it was our job to get promoted,” said Buckley this Wednesday.
Buckley is again Limerick captain this season and has his sights set firmly on lifting the trophy again this Saturday.
“Hopefully it will be the last time we win this Cup,” he said in reference to Limerick aspirations to at least maintain or better their 2014 Division Three status.
No one in the Limerick panel is overlooking the importance of Saturday’s opportunity to claim move silverware, but realistically the initial target for 2013 has been achieved.
“It’s no good for anyone to have Limerick in Division Four. Everyone was saying we were too good to be down there but it was mostly the fault of the players that we needed up back in Division Four so it was our job to get promoted,” explained Buckley.
Promotion was the number one target,” he said bluntly.
“That is done and dusted now,” he said of their target.
“I think the way it worked out the first two games were so important for us. We were short a few players and to get those wins against Leitrim and Offaly really set us on a roll. We were under strength and yet we pulled through and that set us up nicely,” he outlined.
Buckley was one of those that missed the early rounds through injury and as a result the statistics show that Maurice Horan and selectors Joe Lee and Mickey McGeehin used 27-players during the seven rounds of league action.
“It can be very hard when your primary goal is to get promoted because experimenting can be difficult. But it was more out of necessity that we had to try new players and fair play to them they stood up and got results and that will stand us in good stead,” outlined Buckley.
“The first two wins were big. It created a good mood and all of a sudden training in the mud and rain isn’t as bad - it’s all about confidence and everyone wants to be involved.”
Limerick had a slight hiccup with the defeat to Tipperary but regrouped to maintain their place at the top of Division Four.
With promotion ensured, Limerick now turn attention to silverware before focusing 100% on May 25 against Cork in the Munster championship.
One of the big carrot’s on Saturday is the opportunity to play in Croke Park.
“It’s Croke Park and everyone wants to play in Croke Park. No matter what type of game it is in Croke Park you want to win it. Some of the lads are on the panel for over 10 years and the most they have played in Croke Park is three times. Some haven’t played there at all,” outlined the team captain.
He added “It’s always a big deal to play there”.
“It’s a hugely impressive stadium - whether it is a full stadium or not to stand in the middle of the pitch is very imposing.”
Promotion is assured but regardless Limerick want to win on Saturday.
“This is a game in-between the league and the championship but it is still one we want to win. We won six out of seven games in the league and now is not the time to start losing games with Cork just four weeks away,” explained Buckley.
“It is hugely important to keep winning.”
Standing between Buckley and another walk up the steps of the Hogan Stand are a high-flying Offaly, who hit top form after a shaky start.
“There was only a kick of a ball in it,” recalled Buckley of the previous meeting this season.
“Fair play to them they produced a big result when they needed to perform,” he said of their final round win over Tipperary.
But likewise, Limerick produced their best performance in the final round win over Clare.
“We always thought that it was in us and it was just about finding it. We had talked a lot about getting that performance out and for 30-minutes we played how we knew we can and scored 1-7 against a strong wind.”
He continued: “We know how we want to play and it’s about high levels of fitness and holding onto the ball and using the ball with pace and smartly. In modern times it’s all about 15 players and those that are introduced - it’s about high fitness levels and not giving the ball away easily.”
“Limerick has a style of play and we know what we want to do with the ball and without the ball.”
Along with manager Horan, new coach Mickey McGeehin is tasking when perfecting that style of play.
“Mickey has huge experience and is a great motivator,” said Buckley of the Donegal man.
“Everything seems to be going well but we still have a lot to do,” said Buckley with the final of many references to Cork next month.