Jerome O’Connell talks to Limerick hurling manager John Allen after they beat Wexford on Sunday.
THE Limerick senior hurlers over-nighted in Wexford last Saturday night ahead of their crucial Allianz League game.
Texas Hold’em was the entertainment of choice that night as all relaxed after the long journey east on St Patrick’s Day.
But it was on the field in Wexford Park the following day that Limerick were playing with the most difficult of hands.
But it’s a position of Limerick’s own doing after the collapse to Clare in round one. But the past two games have seen Limerick take steps along the road to redemption as they bid to reposition themselves as promotion contenders.
The win in Wexford certainly saw the odds shorten on the Limerick chances of finishing in the top two, which would secure a Division 1B final spot against Clare.
The victors in that final would gain promotion as well as a spot in the league semi-finals proper against the team that finishes top of Division 1A.
“It was a hugely important game for both sides - we were both on two points. We were coming down to Wexford and that is never easy - I can remember when I was with Cork it was never easy down here and get a result,” said Limerick manager John Allen after the eight point win over the Liam Dunne managed Wexford.
“It was a really important win for us - it was almost championship style in that we badly had to win,” explained Allen.
“All in all I am very pleased - it was a good result for us. I am pleased that we are going in the right direction,” said Allen.
Limerick and Wexford were level on four occasions in the opening quarter and if anything it was Wexford that were dictating affairs.
Then came the Limerick goal.
Captain David Breen then timed his run superbly to run onto a Graeme Mulcahy lay-off after the Kilmallock man climbed highest to catch a long delivery from his club-mate Gavin O’Mahony.
Breen then fired calmly to the net to bring his tally to 2-6 from play in the last two games.
“Getting the goal put a bit of daylight between us when there was not that much in it,” recalled John Allen.
“We came out in the second half and everyone wants to start the better and they marginally started better but we came back with a few points and then the second goal.”
That second goal came from Moran and this time it was Mulcahy and Seanie Tobin that were the providers.
“We were up eight and I was never happy we were safe but when they got their two 21s and went for goals and didn’t put either in that set us up,” said Allen.
Those two 21-metre frees were take by Jack Guiney. The first was saved on the line by Stephen Walsh, while the second flew over the crossbar.
The win in Wexford adds to the importance of the Offaly came this Saturday.
“Every match is important in this league and we have only two left now,” said Allen.
“There are all important when there are only five games in the league. Offaly will be kicking themselves that they left a seven point lead go last week against Wexford.”
Allen is targeting another win but performance is key.
“Once we are performing, obviously the result is important as well, then let the better team win.”
Every league game has taken on a ‘championship-like’ situation since Limerick lost by 14-points to Clare in round.
But perhaps that below par performance was the early season wake-up call that all needed to focus the minds on the task at hand.
There is no doubt that last season, the group games in the league were all too easy at time and the Clare loss was a gentle reminder that 2012 was a different scenario with the likes of Down, Westmeath and Carlow not involved.
There is no doubt that the Clare game was a wake-up call for us,” accepted Allen.
“It marked our card as to where we were in a lot of respects and I think the fact that we had a fortnight to prepare for the Laois match there was a marked intensity in our preparation in training last week and the week before,” he said.
LIMERICK hurling’s rising star Declan Hannon has been ruled out for the remainder of the Allianz league.
The Adare man hasn’t played any of the opening three rounds after picking up a groin injury in Limerick’s Waterford Crystal Cup defeat to Clare.
Now an MRI scan has revealed that the attacker needs more rest.
“Declan Hannon won’t make any more of the league - he did go for an MRI scan - he has about another three weeks before he is back playing,” confirmed John Allen.
“He has very quickly become a big player for Limerick but we have to get used to playing without him as he goes through his rehab,” said Allen of the U-21 player.
“Now Mark Van Drumpt (physio) and Dave Boylan (doctor) are happy enough that they know what is wrong with him and he will go through his rehab and hopefully he will be back for championship training.”
While Hannon is out for Saturday evening’s key game against Offaly in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick are hopeful that Na Piarsaigh pair Shane Dowling and Kevin Downes will be back in contention for places.
Allen said that Downes “had a chance”, while he was “hopeful” that Dowling would start.
“Hopefully he will be ready for next week - we didn’t want to risk him and find out after 10 minutes that he broke down again and now we hope to have him for next week,” said Allen of the decision to withdraw Dowling from the Wexford game last Sunday.
“He was close but not close enough,” added the manager.
Others like James Ryan and Gavin O’Mahony picked up slight knocks in Wexford but should be ok.
“It’s only a six day turn around so fellas don’t get much time with any knocks but I think most fellas are ok,” he said.
“We were short Shane Dowling from out original selection and Declan Hannon is a huge loss and Kevin Downes and Seamus Hickey - so to be down that four and get a win was huge.”