The hearts and minds of Limerick hurling were awoken a few weeks ago when Tipperary were defeated and a place in the Munster Final was secured.
The scenes after that game stirred the very foundation of Limerick hurling and since then the anticipation has been building towards Sunday’s battle with Cork in the Gaelic Grounds.
It promises to be a huge day for Limerick GAA as the minor hurlers will also be on duty and that makes the occasion even more special. For years Limerick have watched on and admired others but now they have the chance to make a major statement of intent and also win their first Munster title since 1996.
A huge opportunity awaits Limerick but they will know that to overcome Cork they will have to produce a massive display because, just as they did to Clare, Cork has the ability to roll into town, pick your pocket and be gone before you realise what has happened.
I am expecting Limerick to play with great confidence and I know the attitude within the team is very good, they have blossomed since winning the semi final against Tipperary and playing at home before a huge Limerick crowd must surely be worth a few points to them.
The results of the past few weeks have taught us that League form has not been carried into the Championship as big name teams that were flying have struggled. In the case of Limerick and Cork they have already caused their own surprises and now the opportunity awaits either team if they can take it.
Limerick will seldom get a better chance of winning a Munster Final at home; yes, they will be pushed very hard by Cork but before a ball has been struck the gods have been kind to Limerick.
Cork have lost a few players to injury and the news last week that their full back Brian Murphy was ruled out was a severe blow. Cork will not harbour any fears of playing in Limerick and we saw what they did to a highly fancied Clare in the semi final. Jimmy Barry Murphy is a shrewd hurling man and he will have studied Limerick well before this final.
He will look to his forwards to go at Limerick and he has great pace in his attack to carry it out. The last few years have not been easy for Cork but Jimmy Barry Murphy had the steel to build a new team and not be controlled by the men of the past. No one was ever going to take on Jimmy Barry Murphy in Cork because if they did there was only going to be one winner.
Murphy has developed some really good players and as the line once went, they can come over night and they did against Clare. The last time Limerick met Cork in a Munster Final was in Cork and it will be remembered as the day Tomas Mulcahy raced towards goal without a hurley and scored a telling goal.
Cork have some quality players, men like Anthony Nash, Pa Cronin, Pat Horgan and Seamus Harnedy and many others have the ability to cause trouble for Limerick.
In beating Tipperary we saw Limerick produce much of the qualities that have always made Limerick teams difficult to beat, they played with great heart and passion but they also let the ball do the work.
A direct ball is very difficult to defend and it suits the type of player Limerick has and I am sure we will see a bit more of it against Cork. Over the past few years Cork had adapted to playing a short game but Jimmy Barry Murphy has restored the traditional game and it is working for him. Limerick showed a great hunger against Tipperary and I would be sure they will display a similar type of approach against Cork. Limerick will have learned a lot from the Tipperary game and it will be very interesting to see if changes will be made. I get the sense the management team might just stick with the same starting 15.
This is a game Limerick can win, they have a great chance of making real progress but also a place in the All Ireland semi final and with the way results are going this year anything is possible from there.
Finals are all about making it happen on the day but it will only happen if the planning and detail have been carefully taken care of. Cork will bring a huge challenge but I expect Limerick to end our hurling famine and put the green and white at the top of the hurling ladder in Munster.
A win will only be achieved if Limerick play a very tight defence game, Cork will test us to the very limit but our day has come and let’s hope we get a real quality game of hurling.