Limerick minor hurling manager Brian Ryan has said that the title of defending champions is a source of confidence, not pressure to his side.
“It’s good to be here for the second time,” he said. “The young lads just take it as just another match”.
Ryan also said his side are aware of the task that is ahead of them.
“Waterford are a very good team with six or seven lads with All-Ireland medals,” he said. They showed their maturity the last day against Clare, the way they held their nerve and came back to win it in the end, so they will be no pushover.”
The South Liberties man also revealed he had no qualms about the venue and took no notice of the controversy surrounding the reduced capacity..
“That’s outside our control,” he admitted. “We just go out and play wherever the venue. It’s unfortunate from a supporters point of view because it will be restricted.”
Regardless of the quality of the stadium, it is only the pitch that is of concern to Ryan who says his players want to play in as many venues as possible to gain experience.
“The surface is very good down there so we’re looking forward to playing on that surface. From a players point of view, we like to play in as many big venues as possible for them to gain experience.”
Ryan, father of Limerick senior hurler Thomas, says experience played a big part in his side’s narrow two-point win over Cork in the semi final.
“It (experience) counts for a lot at minor level and Cork tried to counteract it the last day by man-marking players and they were quite good for a large portion of the game. They couldn’t keep it up all the time and we broke their defences in the end.”
Ryan, who managed the side to the Munster title last year, was slow to draw comparisons between this side and that beat Waterford in last year’s Munster final replay, adding that Limerick should always be there or there abouts.
“Last year’s team was a good team but no better than teams over the last three or four years. I suppose with proper preparation this shouldn’t be a case of ‘one swallow makes a summer’. Limerick should be in Munster finals every other year.
“That should be the standard we set ourselves.”
One comparison Ryan would make was with the levels of expectations surrounding this team.
“The level of expectations was higher (this year). Everyone expected this team to do well whereas that’s not always the case. They’re a mature bunch of young lads”.
Although Mungret midfielder Cian O’Brien is for the rest of the year. other injury doubts Shane O’Connell (Doon) and Brian Fanning (Pallasgreen) are back in training.
Ryan has also welcomed the addition of Stephen McDonagh to his backroom team. The Bruree man joined as a selector after Paul Finn left due to work commitments.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have Stephen on board,” Ryan said. “He brings huge experience and maturity to the set up.”
Limerick go to Cork in search of their seventh minor title at provincial level and are looking to win back to back titles for the first time. Waterford have reached the final thanks to two wins over Clare.