Donal O'Grady's new-look Limerick hurlers lower Banner with encouraging win

THE turmoil of Limerick hurling throughout 2010 was firmed left in the past yesterday, as the Donal O'Grady era commenced with a confidence boosting win over Shannonside rivals, Clare.

THE turmoil of Limerick hurling throughout 2010 was firmed left in the past yesterday, as the Donal O'Grady era commenced with a confidence boosting win over Shannonside rivals, Clare.

Limerick got off to a winning start in their quest for an instant return to Division One of the Allianz Hurling League when the new set-up at had nine points to spare over Clare in Ennis.

But former Cork All-Ireland winning manager Donal O'Grady is not getting carried away.

"I don't know where we are going to end up this year but we are just going to take it one game at a time," said O'Grady after the 2-9 to 0-6 win over The Banner.

The win now makes Limerick favourites to win promotion to the top flight, but a number of tricky games lie ahead.

"Its the performance that we are interested in really - the two points are handy, but this is the start of a long campaign. It just comes down to work rate and there is an awful lot of credit due to the lads themselves, who have worked very hard," outlined the new manager, who replaced Justin McCarthy last October.

Limerick's team yesterday in Ennis saw a return to the green and white for Stephen Lucey, Niall Moran and Andrew O'Shaughnessy, who were all deemed surplus to requirements by McCarthy for 2010.

Also returning were many who withdrew in protest at McCarthy's management like Seamus Hickey, Donal O'Grady, James Ryan, Wayne McNamara and others.

"We have only been training since January 2 so we weren't sure where we were at. I'm not sure where Clare are at because you don't know what the attitude of your opponents are - I know Clare were short a few players out there," said the Limerick manager.

"We are happy with the win because it takes the pressure off. Jerry Wallace has done excellent work with them since we have come back in January and you would have to be pleased with the performance."

Limerick held Clare to just a single score from play in the course of the 70 minutes.

"When its wet and there were heavy showers of rain - it favours the defence," explained the manager.

But O'Grady was happy to take the win and kick-start his term in Limerick on a positive not.

"It makes going back to training on Tuesday night that little bit easier because there will be a little bit of a buzz. I suppose any time you win a match, you come back into training and into the dressing room, and post-match meal and there is a buzz and a bit more of a lift than if you loose - all these things are important and confidence is important."

As well as a mix of players from 2009 and 2010, O'Grady and selectors also gave five different players a first taste of senior competitive action.

"We were looking for a performance and we couldn't fault any of the lads - they worked really hard. We reckoned that this was a very difficult game for us but how intent Clare were in winning this match - I don't know."

O'Grady said that wasn't aware if any of his players felt pressure returning to the inter-county scene.

"I'd have to be honest and say I don't know. Everyone was under pressure to perform - I was under pressure to perform, as was Ciaran Carey, Pat Heffernan, TJ Ryan, the back room team, ever body was under pressure. Everyone going out on the field were aware of what job they had to do and it worked for us today and it may not work next Saturday against Westmeath or the next match."

The Westmeath game next Saturday in round two of the Allianz Hurling League has a 2.00 start in the Gaelic Grounds.

Limerick will again wait until late in the week before naming a side.

Captain Gavin O'Mahony (groin) and corner back Damien Reale (ribs) missed the win over Clare.