Kerry’s Niamh Leen, referee Gavin Donegan and Limerick's Grace Lee during the coin toss
DESPITE All-Ireland final defeat, Limerick coach Shane O’Neill has backed his Limerick camogie players for bright futures. The Limerick juniors fell three points short of championship glory on Sunday and earlier in the year they also fell just short of Division Three league honours.
And, many of the Limerick panel also suffered final defeat in the All-Ireland minor B championship final.
O’Neill is confident the 2019 will stand to the girls.
“It’s all part of the development and we will take it on board,” O’Neill told media after the 0-11 to 0-8 defeat in Croke Park.
“Grace Lee is our oldest player at 24/25 - Kerry are a little bit more mature and physical. We had a lot of young girls there and they are light and got blown off the ball at times but look this is a development process. We are a young team and we said to them going out that this is all part of their development and hopefully they will progress and we might be here again next year or they might be playing with the seniors,” outlined Shane O’Neill.
“We took over the minors and there are 11 of them on the panel and six of them started - one on every line of the pitch. There is a lot of development and they have come on a long way. At the start of the year we didn’t know how we would do with the minors and they got all the way to an All-Ireland final and with the juniors we got to another All-Ireland final - although bitterly disappointed we will go again,” said O’Neill who was team coach along with Rachel MacAuley under manager Kevin Connolly, who had selectors in Donie Browne and Teresa Noonan.
“For a lot of the girls it was their first time in Croke Park and we didn’t know how they were going to perform. We trained as best as we could to prepare them in like conditions and we trained in the LIT Gaelic Grounds. In the first five minutes we said to go hell for leather and get the nerves out of the system and to be fair to them, they did exactly what we asked them to do so we can’t fault them for that,” outlined O’Neill.
“You can’t win them all,” he sighed.
“Kerry are a strong team and they were here last year and went through this all, and then they stayed up in Division Two of the league this year and to be honest they probably are an intermediate side and hopefully we will be back here next year doing the same that they did.”
Limerick trailed by one point at half time but were four points in arrears entering the final quarter and in need of a goal.
“A lot of ball went in but it came back out and that’s no fault of the inside line because they worked hard - they had a sweeper in there and we worked hard to manoeuvre the ball around that but that didn’t happen and we will delve into that at a later time when we reassess. We had a few chances but there was a puck of the ball in it and it just didn’t happen for us but it wasn’t for the want of trying,” said O’Neill when speaking under the Hogan Stand.