Dave O'Hora of media agency Southern (award sponsors) presenting the Limerick Person of the Month award to Tom Morrissey, captain of the Limerick U-21 hurling team
THE Limerick U-21 team, who were crowned All-Ireland hurling champions for the second time in three years after a determined performance in Thurles, have been named the Limerick Persons of the Month.
Team captain Tom Morrissey and manager Pat Donnelly were on hand with team mates to accept the monthly award at a presentation at the Clayton Hotel in the city this week.
Limerick were crowned All-Ireland U-21 hurling champions for a sixth time on September 9 with a 0-17 to 0-11 final win over Kilkenny in Semple Stadium.
Reflecting on what was a glorious season, Morrissey said the stand-out moment for him was when the final whistle sounded at 4.19 on that Saturday afternoon in Semple Stadium sparking the start of some memorable celebrations.
“There was such a big Limerick following and lifting the trophy, to see the crowd on the pitch was unbelievable,” he recalled this Monday.
“That was definitely one of the most special moments for the whole team to see the Limerick support that was there and what it meant to them - it made it so much more special for all of us as well.”
It was three-quarters of an hour on from the presentation of the James Nowlan Cup to Tom Morrissey when Pat Donnelly addressed his players underneath the Kinane Stand. County board chairman Oliver Mann and secretary Mike O’Riordan, who were present at the award presentation, also offered a few congratulatory words.
The gist of it was how much pride the players had brought to their native county, and how all their sacrifice had reaped just rewards.
The players’ discipline and dedication, Pat explained “comes from the structures that are in place at the moment”.
“There is an academy and these lads are seven years involved in the academy since U14. They do all the right things. Anyone in it that long are disciplined. It’s down to a lot of things and it comes back again to their parents and their schools. The academy has brought a professional structure to the set-up.”
In front of an attendance of 15,485 the victory over the Cats came in the first ever meeting of the teams at U-21 level.
For 14 members of the Limerick panel it is a second All Ireland U-21 title in three years.
While Pat points out “only X amount of the team will go on to become senior hurlers, what you notice is they become very good young men and it will definitely stand to them going to college and looking for jobs. It disciplines them very, very well.”
For Morrissey, 21, the bond that has been forged between the players over the years made the win “extra special”.
“Over the last year, we have been training three, four or five times a week with these lads so you are going to get friendly with them so it’s definitely extra special when you are that tight-knit a bunch. To share those moments with your friends is very special.”
The fourth year, final year student of Business in the University of Limerick added: “When you win All-Irelands and Munster titles, the sacrifices are definitely worth it. On the tougher days, when you lose, you maybe question it a small bit but it’s definitely nice when you get your award - you would do it all again, in a heartbeat.”