TWO weeks after their Munster final loss, the Limerick minor hurlers return to Thurles this Sunday bidding to kick-start their All Ireland aspirations.
Thirty one years after he was part of Limerick’s last All Ireland minor winning side, manager Leo O’Connor is confident that his teenage stars can return to winning ways.
“It’s a new competition and that’s the way we are looking at it. The Munster championship is over and we are in an All Ireland quarter final,” outlined the Claughaun man.
This Sunday (12noon) Limerick face Galway in Thurles with the winner to play champions Kilkenny in an August 9 All Ireland semi final in Croke Park.
Sunday is the third successive year that Limerick and Galway will meet at U-18 level.
Two years ago Galway had a controversial Hawk-Eye success, while 12 months ago Limerick were 1-27 to 2-9 winners.
“It’s Galway’s first game in the championship so you just don’t know what to expect. They can be the jack in the box surprise team of the championship or they can disappoint like they did last year, said O’Connor.
But the Limerick manager suspects that The Tribesmen will provide a stern test on Sunday.
“We played them twice in challenge games and there wasn’t a puck of the ball between us. They have a lot of lads from the Athenry side that just lost to winners St Kierans in the All Ireland colleges semi final.”
Mattie Murphy led Galway to six All Ireland minor titles between 1992 and 2011 but was replaced after Limerick’s big semi final win last season. Geoff Lynskey is now at the helm.
“Galway have probably been one of the most consistent teams for the last number of years and overall there is very little between any of the teams in this year’s championship.”
Seven of the Limerick teenagers who played last year against Galway will again be involved again for the Shannonsiders - Eoghan McNamara, Seamus Flanagan, Paddy O’Loughlin, Conor Byrnes, Peter Casey, Thomas Grimes and Barry Murphy. McNamara and Flanagan will be facing Galway for a third year.
“The carrot now is to get back to Croke Park and play Kilkenny,” said O’Connor.