THIS Tuesday night, the Limerick intermediate hurling team was announced to play Clare on Sunday at 2.00 in Thurles.
Five remain in the starting team from the extra time defeat 12-months ago to Tipperary - Brian Murray, Mike Reidy, Andrew Brennan, Willie Griffin and Mikey Ryan.
The team is noteworthy for the inclusion of four from Patrickswell.
One of those is Mark Carmody, who was a 2014 Limerick senior panellist, along with William Hickey.
Others like Murray and Denis Moloney are former Limerick seniors while corner back Sean Finn arrives straight from the minor ranks.
Although performance levels have been good, the Limerick intermediate hurlers bid to end three years without a win this Sunday.
Three years in a row they failed to Tipperary and back in 2011 they were knocked out of the championship at the Munster final stage - to Clare.
Like last year Limerick’s intermediate team is managed by Don Flynn with John Lacey as team coach. There are new selectors in Ray Ryan (Murroe-Boher), Declan O’Grady (Patrickswell) and Maurice Nelligan (Kilmallock).
“Preparations have gone well over the last two or three months with great commitment from all the players,” outlined manager Don Flynn.
“Last year we were very disappointed that we didn’t get over Tipp - we had a lot of work done and it went to extra time and we had it won at normal time and again in extra time but we just gave away a goal and lost by a point. We learned a lot from last year in terms of preparation,” he explained.
“We have all the U-21s with us this year - we didn’t have them last year because they were playing three nights later. We have eight on the panel this year and we will be a lot stronger because of that. We are more settled and hopefully it will show on Sunday.”
Four of those U-21s start - Finn, Barry O’Connell, Diarmuid Byrnes and Kevin O’Brien.
“We found this year it was a bit easier to get together because there is an expectation there, whereas last year we were going into the unknown. This year people are expected that we will be very competitive and I know it’s all down to the day but we will be there or there abouts. Limerick hurling is very strong at the moment. The whole underage academy is working and there is a great buzz there,” said Flynn.
“The minors have done well for the last two years and it has to come through. I was with them at U-16 and would know them very well and they will come through in the next few years. There is a buzz about Limerick hurling and everyone wants to play. Obviously everyone wants to win and that’s why they put in the hard work. It has to be improving with the effort and the facilities that the County Board have are second to none and a credit to everybody involved.”
Flynn paid tribute to the former senior players for playing intermediate.
“There were a couple of lads that were on the senior panel last year and they have all come back down to us this year and they all feel they should be on the senior panel and now is their opportunity to show that to TJ (Ryan) - to show that they are up for it. They are all good players but maybe the timing wasn’t right to be on the senior panel. We would be encouraging all the lads to strive to be on the senior panel. It doesn’t happen overnight but Seanie O’Brien was with us last year and he went up. TJ and myself would be in contact on a regular basis as is John Kiely (U-21 manager) and they are very open to anyone who could make the grade,” outlined Flynn.
”We don’t know much about Clare but I’m sure most of their panel will be from their U-21s or extended senior panel and if Clare hurling is anything to go by they will be prepared well and difficult to beat. But on any given day it’s 50-50.”
LIMERICK: Brian Murray (Patrickswell); Sean Finn (Bruff), Barry O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Mike Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca); Denis Moloney (Doon), Diarmuid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Barry Lynch (Feohanagh-Castlemahon); Robert O’Donnell (Pallasgreen), Andrew Brennan (Caherline); Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell), William Hickey (South Liberties), Mark Carmody (Patrickswell); Willie Griffin (Adare), Mike Fitzgibbon (Feohanagh-Castlemahon), Mikey Ryan (Murroe-Boher).