At the Aldi Community Games August Festival in UL, World U20 silver medallists, Ciara Neville, left and Mollie Scott, right, Aldi Ambassador Paul O'Connell, Galway hurling manager Micheál Donoghue
FORMER Munster and Ireland captain and Limerick native Paul O’Connell caught up with Galway senior hurling manager Micheál Donoghue at the Aldi Community Games National Festival finals at UL this Saturday.
Donoughue’s Galway side will take on Limerick in Sunday’s mammoth All-Ireland senior hurling final at Croke Park. The Galway boss was in Limerick on Saturday, however, due to his family involvement in the Community Games All-Ireland finals at UL.
More than 4,000 young sports stars are in Limerick this weekend competing at the Community Games National Festival.
Aldi Ambassador Paul O'Connell, who has strong links with Community Games from his time as a competitive swimmer, said the Limerick hurlers had been ‘incredibly impressive’ in reaching the All-Ireland final.
“Limerick are incredibly impressive. John Kiely is very impressive. I was only thinking about them the other day, about how Alex Ferguson, whenever you hear him speak, he always talks about the games they used to win in the last minute.
“That, it seems, is what Limerick have now. They are never, ever beaten. They seem to be able to pull it out of the fire and I think that takes confidence, it takes fitness, it tales mental strength, takes belief, all the really important things.
“They have had a few ups and downs, have had one bad game (v Clare), so they have accumulated a lot of experience this season.
“I know they are underdogs going into the game, but I think they have a great chance based on the experience they have.
“I am looking forward to watching it. I won’t be able to go to it as I’m flying home to Paris on Sunday evening. I will be watching it on TV though.”
O’Connell said the first time he had competed in the Community Games was in swimming as a six-year-old in Mosney.
“I was lucky enough to win a few medals. They were beautiful, big medals, really looked like Olympic medals.
“The friends I would have roomed with in the chalets of Mosney are still friends of mine 32 years later.
“The Aldi August National Community Games Festival brings people to Limerick in the summer season. It is in UL for three years, 4,000 kids competing Saturday and Sunday.
“There were 3,000 competing here in May, so 7,000 in all. Overall, I think 160,000 kids take part in Community Games, with 20,000 volunteers.
“It is a brilliant concept and it is brilliant it is built on volunteerism as well.
“Limerick is made for it. When you look at the new track at UL, the new pitches at Maguire’s Field, the facilities for the competitors to stay in as well, UL is made for it.”