Key questions for Limerick hurlers

14 July 2013; Limerick cornerback Stephen Walsh is carried shoulder high after the game. Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final, Limerick v Cork, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
With the Limerick hurlers now in an All Ireland semi-final, we asked some hurling experts for their views - and whether Limerick can go all the way.

With the Limerick hurlers now in an All Ireland semi-final, we asked some hurling experts for their views - and whether Limerick can go all the way.

DIARMUID O’FLYNN, IRISH EXAMINER GAA WRITER

1. How big an impact had Patrick Horgan’s sending off on the result?

Major impact. He is the Cork free-taker and a good one and would not have missed that second half free even though Jamie Coughlan did hit two more difficult earlier frees.. His absence meant that a) the Cork attack had to work much harder, tired earlier, b) the defence was under more relentless pressure with ball coming back faster, c) Cork had to play one of their ace reserve cards earlier than they wanted.

2. In what area do you feel Limerick still need to show an improvement?

Only one area I would question, David Breen at wing-forward. David is big, strong athlete, incredibly hard-working, but he isn’t a finisher of the calibre of any of (alphabetical order!) Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes or Niall Moran, any of whom would work just as hard. Those guys have come and had a very positive impact but leaving them on the bench is also a huge risk – what if the game is gone out of sight?

3. What changes, if any, would you make for the All Ireland semi-final?

Refer to answer two above – I would start any of the above three ahead of David, perhaps Niall Moran given his previous experience at this level. I’m not saying David woul let Limerick down, I am saying any of Niall, Shane or Kevin wouldn’t either.

4. On the evidence of last weekend, where are Limerick on the list of All Ireland contenders?

I’d have them third. Dublin are number one after beating Kilkenny, the reigning All-Ireland and league champions, then went on to beat Galway, the reigning Leinster champions. Kilkenny have rebounded from that defeat to Dublin to beat Tipperary and Waterford and their panel is getting stronger – they’re STILL the reigning All-Ireland champions, so they’re at two. Limerick are the best of the rest

DAMIAN LAWLOR, SUNDAY INDEPENDENT GAA CORRESPONDENT

1. How big an impact had Patrick Horgan’s sending off on the result?

It had an impact but I feel that Limerick would have won anyway. Any belt to the head/helmet these days will result, or at least should, in a red card but I’m contradicting myself here because it was harsh and Horgan is not a dirty player. Limerick had too much for Cork in any case.should see them home.

2. In what area do you feel Limerick still need to show an improvement?

This final will have done a lot for them - they might not be as nervous next time.But even though there was a healthy spread of scorers and the bench was used well the game wasn’t a classic. Maybe the ball into the forwards could have been better but we’re nit-picking.

3. What changes, if any, would you make for the All Ireland semi-final?

You could start any of three subs who came on and performed so well but I don’t think John Allen will do that - he is very likely to stick to a winning formula, unless one of those lads plays out of their skin in training.

4. On the evidence of last weekend, where are Limerick on the list of All Ireland contenders?

They are right up there with Kilkenny and Dublin, I think. It would be absolutely super for Limerick to win this All-Ireland in what has been possibly the greatest hurling championship of all time. They have power, skill, heart and strength in depth - they are right up there.

MARTIN KIELY, LIMERICK LEADER GAA COLUMNIST

1. How big an impact had Patrick Horgan’s sending off on the result?

I thought the sending off of Patrick Horgan had a big impact on the game. Horgan is a good player and was badly missed by Cork in the second half. As a unit Cork were not playing well but losing Horgan made their task impossible. James McGrath made a poor call and made little allowance for the sun. None of the players saw the ball coming due to the sun.

2. In what area do you feel Limerick still need to show an improvement?

I think Limerick are entering a new phase now and the pressure will be huge from now on. I think as a team they are developing with every game but to win on the national stage requires a huge effort from all lines on the field. Our forwards need to score more from play.

3. What changes, if any, would you make for the All Ireland semi-final?

John Allen is not a man for making changes but our subs are doing well. I think we need to strengthen our forwards and get the balance right. We have lads working hard but we must have players that can finish.

4. On the evidence of last weekend, where are Limerick on the list of All Ireland contenders?

The championship is now wide open and Limerick have as good a chance as one of the teams remaining. Dublin are the team with real purpose and drive and will be hard to beat. Until Kilkenny are beaten they are still No 1’ followed by Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Clare.

LIAM AHERNE, LIMERICK’S LIVE 95FM SPORTS EDITOR

1. How big an impact had Patrick Horgan’s sending off on the result?

It without doubt had a major impact on the game. The timing of it allowed Limerick restructure themselves at half time. I still feel though that Limerick won have won the game. It may not have been as big as the nine-point margin in the end but I reckon nobody was going to stop Limerick on Sunday

2. In what area do you feel Limerick still need to show an improvement?

Certainly there is room to improve. We started well but went well out of the game as the first half progressed. We will have to look at that. If Cork had taken their chances we could have been well down at half time and it would have been a far different game. We won’t get away with that in the semi final but look we won the game and we will worry about the improvements next week

3. What changes, if any, would you make for the All Ireland semi-final?

It’s difficult to know. The subs bench has played a crucial role in the last two games. three subs coming on scoring six points between them would suggest there is savage competition in the starting line up and they will justifiably feel they have done enough to start. I would leave it as it is for the semi final. I just hope that players come through the next four weeks uninjured

4. On the evidence of last weekend, where are Limerick on the list of All Ireland contenders?

Right up there to be honest. Kilkenny are no longer the invincible force that they have been over the last few years. Then looking at the remaining sides in the championship on any given day Limerick would always fancy their chances of beating those sides and vice versa. It’s wide open for any team to go the whole way. One step at a time butI think we can dare to dream

JEROME O’CONNELL, LIMERICK LEADER GAA CORRESPONDENT

1. How big an impact had Patrick Horgan’s sending off on the result?

Firstly it was a harsh sending off and we would be up in arms if any Limerick player were sent for such a foul. The timing was perfect for Limerick and allowed John Allen to put his game plan into action and time after time Limerick were able to work handpasses outof defence to to clear. Cork were held to three scores from play in the second period. Regardless of the dismissal, I still feel Limerick would have won.

2. In what area do you feel Limerick still need to show an improvement?

When our semi-final opponents look back at videos of the Tipp and Cork games they will see that Nickie Quaid has to make some top drawer saves against Tipp and that there were also some nervy moments against Cork. Given that Limerick haven’t threatened very many goals, maintaining clean sheets will be crucial. Limerick’s last two All-Ireland semis clearly demonstrate the importance of goals at either end.

3. What changes, if any, would you make for the All Ireland semi-final?

If it ain’t broke, why try and fix it? The tactics employed by Limerick mean that this is very much a 20-man game and within the panel is it seen as such. Everyone knows their role and have been carefully selected for the varying positions. In the current system the means certainly justify the end.

Everyone would like to be in the starting 15 but it will matter for little if Liam McCarthy is back in Limerick on September 9

4. On the evidence of last weekend, where are Limerick on the list of All Ireland contenders?

For me Kilkenny are the team that all have to beat. Whoever knocks them out of the All-Ireland series would be deserving favorites and the longer they remain in the championship the more ominous it gets . Dublin and Limerick carry great momentum from the provincial championships and this is a huge factor and therefore appear ahead of Galway, unless they find their form on June 28.