Limerick hurlers reach summit as footballer hit bottom

Jerome O’Connell


Jerome O’Connell

LIMERICK’s new senior hurling manager Donal O’Grady has warned against any over-hyped expectation.

LIMERICK’s new senior hurling manager Donal O’Grady has warned against any over-hyped expectation.

After watching his side falter past Westmeath on Saturday O’Grady warned supporters not to expect any “cricket score” victories in Division Two of the Allianz League.

From the outset of the season Limerick were the bookmakers favourites to gain an instant promotion back to Division One.

After just two rounds of action Limerick are the only side with a 100 per cent record.

But on Saturday, they were anything but overly impressive when defeating Westmeath by eight point.

“It was always going to be difficult after the match last week,” explained O’Grady, referring back to the round one win over Clare.

“We were just a small bit flat before the game - a lot of players were involved in Fitzgibbon Cup this week and that impacted a little bit,” said O’Grady.

“We were a little flat for the second 20 minutes of the first half and to their credit Westmeath came back into the game and they gave us a rasp and we were lucky to be ahead at half time. We made a good start in the second half and the first 15 minutes and got a good goal, which settled us,” said the former Cork All-Ireland winning manager.

“There are going to be no easy games in this competition, Division Two,” he said.

“They (Westmeath) played badly by their own admission last week so they wanted to atone for that and they gave us enough of it to be honest and we learned a good bit from the game. I wouldn’t expect us to win anything by a cricket score to be honest - every game is going to be nip and tuck. Everything is going to be tough and you are not going to win anything by scoring three goals in the first couple of minutes and going away to win by 20 points.”

Wesmteath led 0-8 to 0-7 just before half time but Limerick regrouped to ease ahead after half-time.

“If I was taking positives from it, at least the players dug in, in the second half with a workman like performance.”

O’Grady cast aside any notion that his side should be expected to beat Westmeath by a greater margin.

“There is a huge difference when you look at the top teams in division one and two but there is not that much difference going out week in and week out. Traditionally Limerick wouldn’t have been meeting Westmeath in league matches. Westmeath probably wanted to come down here after last weeks loss and show what they can do and we were probably after beating Clare, so maybe players slackened off a bit in their minds.”

“We were guilty at times in the first half of going through the motions and our work rate wasn’t good enough, but it improved in the second half and we were comfortable enough for the last few minutes. You want to be getting your two points in the bag early on and making sure that there aren’t any mistakes.”

O’Grady has now used 24 players in the opening two rounds of action, with seven of those making their first ever senior appearances.

“We want to see what we have. We decided to give a few guys a rest - that we felt needed it and thats part of the policy. There is a culture at inter-county level that you need rest, club players will play three matches a weekend, but at inter-county level you need rest.”

Next up for Limerick is an away trip to Down on March 6.

Meanwhile, the Limerick senior footballers are without a win after two rounds of Allianz League.

Yesterday they fell to a 2-8 to 0-8 loss to Waterford.

They play Offaly in their first home game next Sunday in Newcastle West and will look to kick-start their season.

They were forced to line-out without centre back Stephen Lucey yesterday.

Dual player Lucey was forced off injured with a hamstring complaint at half-time in the hurling game on Saturday.

He joins an extensive football injury list that also includes Stephen Lavin.

Next Sunday’s football tie clashes with the Dr Harty Cup final between Ardscoil Ris and Charleville CBS.

The college’s final takes place in the Gaelic Grounds at 2.30, with Ardscoil Ris looking to secure back-to-back wins.