Steven Miller picks out five of the main talking points following Limerick’s Munster final win over Cork.
1. THE SENDING OFF
Limerick won comfortably in the end and finished with a flourish, just as they had done in the Tipperary match.
Amid the euphoria of the Limerick celebrations, there was little mention of the red card issued to Cork’s Pa Horgan just before half time.
But how big an impact had that on the game? Cork had enjoyed more than their fair share of possession in the opening half but their shooting had let them down badly and the sides were tied 0-10 each at the break.
On a baking hot day, how much of a difference did the extra man make? And would Cork have remained competitive until the final whistle had they stayed at 15?
The sending off appeared harsh and had it been a Limerick player sent off for the same thing, you can be sure we’d be up in arms. But as we’re always told, these decisions level out over the course of time. Limerick have been on the wrong end too often in the past. This time they benefited from a questionable refereeing decision - and they took full advantage. For that they have to be admired.
2. THAT SUBS BENCH
All week long in the build-up to the game, the strength of Limerick’s bench was highlighted as a reason why the home side would win. Limerick were heading in the right direction before the subs came in but they really ensured the job was finished.
Shane Dowling had an immediate impact, setting up Declan Hannon for a point and then adding three more himself. Kevin Downes added two and Niall Moran fired over one. Conor Allis and Cathal King also played a key role. The main issue now is whether any of them have done enough to earn a starting spot or will John Allen and co stick with their starting team and continue to use their bench as a powerful weapon
3. HALF-FORWARD LINE
THE strength of Limerick’s bench and the composition of the half-forward line were two issues that were effectively tied together.
The Limerick half-forward line was said to be heavy on worker s and light on scorers and the likes of Dowling, Downes and Moran were pushing hard for a starting place.
But James Ryan was man-of-the-match as he worked hard and scored well, David Breen upped his game massively, was fouled for a number of frees and could have had a goal while Hickey also got on a lot of ball and also chipped in with a point in the second half. The subs coming on might be making a big impact but this starting half-forward line are a big part of what this Limerick team are all about
4. FULL-FORWARD LINE
Declan Hannon’s role at full-forward in the first half saw him drop deep, leaving Graeme Mulcahy and Seanie Tobin inside to fend for themselves.
With the extra man in the second half, Hannon played as a traditional full-forward on the edge of the square. Despite winning - and all three scoring two points each from play - Limerick’s strategy here appears to be a work on progress. They’ve a couple of weeks to work on it in training and it would appear that Limerick can improve in this sector. If they do, then an All Ireland final place could await
5. THE FIVE-WEEK WAIT
For the second time this championship season, Limerick have a five-week break between their championship games.
Indeed they should be well used to that by now as they also had a big nine-week break between the end of the league and the start of the championship. The key difference now though is that Limerick won’t be playing a team that are coming off a big break too.
They’ll play Kilkenny, Galway or Clare (a repeat of the Cork game won’t be permitted) and if it’s Kilkenny, it’ll be their seventh game in 11 weeks. Galway or Clare would also be coming off a busy schedule. This group of Limerick players will now head for Croke Park with greater confidence than ever and will be backed by a massive crowd. Just a pity we’ve to wait so long for the game to come around. Still, it’s not a bad complaint to have.