After a fourth successive Munster SFC without a win, Jerome O’Connell looks at the current plight of John Brudair’s Limerick senior footballers.
MAURICE Horan’s tenure as Limerick senior football manager ended with a Longford loss in the 2013 All Ireland SFC Qualifiers.
Just three of the players that saw action in that Pearse Park defeat were in the Limerick line-up for the Munster SFC loss to Clare last Sunday.
Rebuilding was the no1 item on the ‘do to’ list for new manager John Brudair and to be fair he has cast the net wide and introduced a host of new players to the inter-county scene.
In the Summer of 2014 Brudair handed out six debuts in the Munster SFC and 12 months later he had four debutants in his provincial championship team. Last weekend another four made their first starts in the Munster championship, while there were another three debuts off the bench.
That’s a whopping 17 players – Darragh Treacy, Cian Sheehan, Sean O’Dea, Colm Moran, Eoin Hanrahan, Micheal Brosnan, Robert Browne, Cillian Fahy, Stephen Cahill, Peter Nash, Brian Fanning, Paul White, Sean McSweeney, Garrett Noonan, Paul Hannan, Hugh Bourke and Killian Ryan.
Other names that can be added to the list of championship newcomers in the last three years are Gearoid Hegarty, Kevin Moore, Jamie Lee and Killian Phair.
Now the list of fresh faces is at 21!
No doubt about the quest to rebuild the panel has been thorough.
But still it’s the players not in the panel at present that is holding Limerick back. For a variety of reasons Eoin Hanrahan, Gearoid Hegarty, Micheal Brosnan, Robert Browne, Kevin Moore, Jamie Lee and Killian Phair are not involved at present – that’s seven of the players Brudair had introduced.
On top of that are three of the forwards that sparked in 2013 – Ger Collins, Derry O’Connor and Seamus O’Carroll.
For all the positives that comes with the rebuilding process the record books are stark.
Limerick are now without a Munster SFC win since 2012 – the longest run without success since the ‘breakthrough’ year of 2003.
Taking the McGrath Cup, Allianz League and Championship into consideration, Limerick have played 12 games without a win – stretching back to an April 5 2015 league game against Louth.
While no one likes defeat, the style of play adopted by Limerick was also the focus of many disappointed fans after the three-point loss to Clare.
Speaking at the Limerick media event in advance of the game coach Jerome Stack spoke of the “fickle” nature of analysis of current day Gaelic Football as a whole.
“Sometimes while it’s not nice football, it has to be done. If you do it poorly they will say you are terrible but if you do it well, although I don’t like to play football like that, and you get a result people will say aren’t they a lovely structured team with great method and patience,” outlined Stack.
It may be fickle but Limerick were certainly too slow to move possession forward last Sunday.
Certain aspects of the gameplan worked a treat and much praise is deserved by all for that. But how many times did Limerick work the ball across their own ‘21 metre line?
Holding possession is key part of most field sports at present but there can be no arguing that it isn’t earning victories at this moment in time for Limerick football.