Martin Kiely Column - Time to circle the wagons and get behind Limerick

Limerick GAA fixtures
In this week’s Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely says that it’s time to put the recent controversy behind us and get behind Limerick ahead of the championship.

In this week’s Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely says that it’s time to put the recent controversy behind us and get behind Limerick ahead of the championship.

Some years ago the GAA correspondent of the Irish Times, the late Paddy Downey, told me stories of when Peader O’Brien and himself would travel to games all over Ireland.

O’Brien covered games for the Irish Press and was generally known as a bit of character in the business. He liked his jar but over time Downey told me he had code words for when he felt it was time to stop. “Will we park it,” was the cry from O’Brien which usually meant it would take more than one day to get back to Dublin.

Well the words ‘park it’ might be ideal at this time in Limerick GAA and I feel the time has now come to focus on the Tipperary game in a few weeks time. The problems of the past can be dealt with when the championship is over. The turmoil of the last couple of weeks will have further unsettled a fractured foundation but it’s important now that as a county we adopt a united front and, after all, this is about the green and white and the crest of Limerick.

Gaelic games means so much to so many in this county and with that in mind the hurling management, players and the top table need to push the barriers aside and do the best they can to be ready for Tipperary.

I am long enough around to know that Tipperary don’t like playing Limerick and I can remember a time when it took them 16 years to beat us in the championship. When Tipperary were often flying it was Limerick who so often beat them in the championship and I for one feel Limerick have a chance going to Thurles on June 1. But a couple of things will have to be right. Limerick don’t have much time to be playing around with new things and the next few weeks should be all about getting themselves right and forget about what Tipperary will do and how they will play the game.

I say that because if we have a game plan and everyone is focused in the right way then we will not be found wanting in giving Tipperary a game. No one will give Limerick a chance and with good reason. But let them think that way. A Limerick team with fire in their bellies and passion in their hearts will be hard to beat and for me that should be the main focus in the weeks leading up to this game. There is no need to complicate matters, just make sure the simple things are right and the rest will look after itself.

At one stage Tipperary looked like they were heading to Division 1B of the National League next year but a lucky break along the way has turned their season around. It’s fair to say they are finding form and the team is building nicely ahead of championship. Having watched them last Sunday against Kilkenny you would have to say this team is heading in the right direction.

Eamonn O’Shea has brought in some new young players and the attitude in the team is ahead of where they were at this stage last year.

Limerick have some vital areas to sort in defence, midfield and attack and how we do in Thurles will depend greatly on what formation the team management come up with. In reality the timing of the latest crisis might well hit the team badly as the gap between it and the championship doesn’t allow for much work to be done. But little can be done about that now and it will just be a case of having a go with some real purpose and passion.

Limerick can build up to this game without the sort of pressure they would have had it been different as they are the current Munster Champions but much of the fuel has been leaked from that tank now and instead it will be Tipperary that will go in as red hot favourites. TJ Ryan gave good service to Limerick as a player and the last few weeks will have taken its toll but for now he deserves the support of all gaels in the lead up to this game.

The morale around the county is not great but it’s time to wrap the green and white flag around our team and county because a united approach going to Thurles could produce the shock of the championship.

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