Martin Kiely – Morale very low among Limerick hurling fans

Martin Kiely – Morale very low among Limerick hurling fans

FORTY four years have passed since Eamon Grimes walked up the steps of the Hogan Stand in Croke Park. That win over Kilkenny ended a baron spell of thirty three years when Limerick had last won in 1940.

The maths are simple Limerick have won only one senior All Ireland title in seventy seven years. Generations of young people have been told how great it was in Croke Park that day.

I and countless thousands have only tales and video to recount the atmosphere of the day. As a county we have had so many missed opportunities, but sadly no lessons were learned or applied by those in charge of Limerick GAA.

The last few years have seen a major decline in our senior hurling team. We have lost ground that we may never recover. We can beat the drum all we like, but at no stage over the past few years were Limerick capable of mixing it with the bigger teams in Division 1A of the National League.

We finished 9th this year in the league table and going on form we could expect little more than that. Morale is very low around the county. Some great supporters have lost faith and they are no longer going to games.

The decline in the Limerick senior team since 2013 has been rapid. The County Board has looked on and instead of plotting the future they played a key part in protecting a set up that was clearly not up to it.

No one on the board stood out from the crowd they just followed what the top lads decided. Limerick hurling has been badly served by the decisions they have taken.

There is no surprise in that because many before them followed the same path. Many of the decisions were not taken in the best interest of Limerick hurling and therein lies the problem.

We all want Limerick to do well, we would all love to see them reclaim ground lost but right now that seems a fair bit away.

Some lads on the County Board are pretty good at sending out the message that all is well within the county.

They will tell you that progress is been made on many levels, but cut the crust from the ground and you will see that the foundation is not so strong.

So many people that have given much have walked away. Many have been really badly treated by Limerick County Board and indeed some outside the board. We have a County Board that only wants people that they can control.

If you have a different view point then it’s safe to say your stay will be short lived. The County Board have made no effort to get some of these people back into the system and work for Limerick GAA at some level.

Instead it’s a case of moving on to the next great hope. All too often though they too will be shown the door.

Right now I am not so sure Limerick GAA has any plan. Now they might have plans that involve blocks, cement and steel and even then they have a poor record of finishing projects to a high level.

The most important project has to be Limerick hurling and where we now stand and where they want to go.

I am sure the current senior management have their own vision, but they will need a huge amount to go right for them.

The bigger question is have the County Board a plan? History informs us that they don’t and I have seen nothing from the current board to suggest they will bring real vision or planning for the development of Limerick hurling in the long term.

Limerick needs short term and long term plans for the development of hurling. As it stands it would be very hard to see Limerick winning an All Ireland senior title in the near future.

We are further away now than we have been at any stage over the last twenty years.

Limerick GAA has a great habit of going from one crisis to another. Sadly though they learn very few lessons along the way.

Of course Limerick has enjoyed some success at underage, but it appears we have major problems getting many of these players to advance as top rate senior hurlers.

That success has helped keep the flag flying but like so many times in the past we make heroes of young players and promote them much too early.

So many players have struggled over the years and I am concerned that some players have again been promoted too early in the current set up.

Only the really exceptional player comes through to make it at nineteen or twenty and in my view it takes about two to three years for a player to learn his trade at inter-county level.

You wont see counties like Kilkenny or Tipperary in hurling doing this or Kerry or Dublin in football and if they do, it’s really well managed.

It takes a huge amount of effort for a county to have success. It requires all the wheels going in the same direction and that has not been the case in Limerick.

Politics in the board room and politics on the sideline has cost Limerick dearly for years. Will that change? I think anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Limerick GAA would have to suggest it wont.

Few know it better than Limerick that winning underage titles are no guide to the future. It’s only natural to think that success at these levels will bring rewards but all too often in Limerick these players were mismanaged.

Many of the players themselves were of the view that they had arrived on the stage when in fact they had only earned the right to a walk-on part.

It will take a massive sustained and honest effort for Limerick to win an All Ireland senior title. It will require change at many levels but most of all at the top table.

What I have noticed in recent times is that many great people that followed Limerick teams are no longer doing so. They have lost confidence at many levels and when people like this are walking away it will be hard to replace them.

The Limerick County Board would like people to conform to how they do business and leave their voice and opinions outside the door. For as long as that is the case the famine in Limerick hurling will continue.

Clubs have a huge part to play, but too many of them have played a role in the decline.

They have not held the County Board to account and in doing so they have been complicit in Limerick's lack of success at senior level.