Members of the Limerick minor hurling panel with Mayor Kieran O'Hanlon at City Hall Picture: Press 22
HIGH hopes have been expressed that Limerick’s next generation of hurlers can bring the Liam McCarthy cup back home.
The Treaty County’s minor panel, who finished runners up to Tipperary in the All-Ireland final, were honoured this week with a mayoral reception at City Hall.
And while disappointment was expressed at Sunday’s result – a seven point defeat to the Premier County – praise was lavished on the panel, who arrived at the council headquarters looking immaculate in matching blue suits and gold ties.
Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon said: “Mark my words , you will be back here with a senior hurling medal under your belt. You all did your county proud on the hallowed turf of Croke Park. You played with great skill, authority, drive and, as a team, you have a remarkable spirit.
“You’re a credit to your county and the green jersey you wear.”
The mayor sat at the top table with the minor captain Kyle Hayes, manager Pat Donelly, and Oliver Mann, the chairman of Limerick GAA.
Mr Donnelly said: “You have no idea how proud I am of this group. These lads are exemplary, and I would say this without fear of contradiction. I felt proud and honoured after the game that we did exactly what we said we’d do.
“We came out of Croke Park with no regrets. We did everything we said we’d do on the day, so we have no complaints.”
Mr Mann added: “I am very confident the day of having an All-Ireland Liam McCarthy here is not too far off. The structures are in place at underage. This is the foundation. And if you haven’t the foundation, like any house, you’re going nowhere.”
Murroe-Boher wing back Finn Hourigan, a student of Castletroy College, said it was “a very proud moment” playing at GAA headquarters.
“You’re proud for your club, your family, and everyone who coaches you under-age. We do this to represent them and make them proud. We have had a lot of tough days. Unfortunately a lot of them involved Tipperary. But we have to be happy with how we did: we won four games and lost two games. We beat the Leinster finalists and the Leinster champions. So there are a lot of positives.”
He also praised the supporters who travelled in their thousands to Dublin at the weekend.
“Limerick as a county are very good for supporting us wherever we go. It was difficult, as there was a big Tipp crowd. But Limerick supporters did their best to have their voices heard, and we’d like to think we did them proud,” Finn added.
Labour councillor Elena Secas said: “You are our heroes – the heroes of Limerick. To reach an All-Ireland final is a fantastic achievement in itself. You can only look back at it with huge pride. Your energy, inspiration and motivation are outstanding.”
Sinn Fein councillor John Costelloe had this advice: “The future is very bright for you – stick together”.
Councillor Emmett O’Brien called on the panel to make sure the loss ignites “a drive and passion in your hearts and minds to represent the glorious green and white of Limerick and bring the senior title home.”