On Point - In association with the Longcourt House Hotel
WHEN you are trying to get to the top table, be it in sport or business, you need things to fall right for you, or, more so, you need somebody to stand up and make it happen!
I can’t help but think back to 2018, when Limerick relatively came from nowhere. We went into an All-Ireland quarter final as underdogs, not having won a single championship game the previous year.
We all remember Tom Morrissey’s amazing score right after the Richie Hogan goal. Someone needed to stand up. Tom did that day.
Fast forward to the semi-final against Cork, numerous people stood up and made it happen. Nobody looked over their shoulders for somebody else to do it. The reason I bring this up is because on Saturday night, if Cork had the personnel to stand up and deliver, that was their time to conquer.
It was their time because if, before the game, you were told that Tom Morrissey, Aaron Gillane and Gearoid Hegarty would all be taken off, that Cork would have 10 minutes of having an extra man and they would be awarded a penalty, a Cork win is what would have been spoken about.
And not only that, but there was a period in the second half where Limerick were leading by 4, back to 3, out to 5, back to 4, bad wides, and bad decisions. It was screaming for a Cork man to take the bull by the horns. They didn’t.
I am just trying to be objective here now. For large periods in the first half Cork were the better team. And for Limerick to go in at half-time 6 points up was huge for us, and ultimately, that 3 minutes before half-time was the winning of the entire match.
Straight away after the full-time whistle blew, I had a smile on my face. Why? Because this is the ideal situation for John Kiely. A Munster semi-final won, heading into a Munster final and knowing there is so much more in the tank.
In saying that, it is easy to say some players didn’t play to the highest of standards we have become accustomed to, but they also were marking top-class opposition from the other side.
It goes without saying the big moment of the game happened in the 24th minute when Cork were awarded a penalty and Peter Casey was given 10 minutes in the sin bin. Cork were two points up at this stage, and, had the green flag been raised, I think this article, and indeed all analysis across the country would have been different.
Who else would you rather have standing for us between the sticks, only Mr Consistent. An incredible athlete and an incredible keeper who puts in, arguably, more time than the outfield players, Nickie Quaid deserves every plaudit he gets.
From that stage to the half-time whistle, Limerick took over. It was the tonic they needed, and they showcased why they are All-Ireland champions, in that 12 minute spell.
In the second half, there were a lot of wides on both sides. Kieran Kingston said afterwards that when you miss 1-18 you are not going to win any game. But don’t forget Limerick had 20 wides also, so, on that basis, they evened each other out.
It was great to see Richie English do so well, starting his first championship game since he did his cruciate, and it is also positive news that Mike Casey is back in full training and ready for road.
Add them into the mix with Seanie Finn, Dan Morrissey and Barry Nash, and boy do you have some competition for spots in the full back line!
They will have Seamie Callanan, 'Bubbles' and Jake Morris in the forefront of their minds for the next 12 days, which brings us to the Munster final on Sunday week.
Tipperary looked sharp on Sunday. And leaving the penalty to one side, it shows that when you let them hurl, they will hurl. Allow them any bit of space and room to get their confidence up and they will destroy any team.
Liam Sheedy will be very quick to remind them of the 2019 Munster final in the Gaelic Grounds, and also last year’s Munster semi-final in the same venue.
How many people will be allowed to attend the game, we still don’t know, but we will be hoping for a lot more than the number in attendance on Saturday night.
I must add though, driving into Thurles on Saturday evening, I nearly knew every face. Family, friends, or people involved in Limerick GAA could go to the match, and that meant a lot to the players.
It was great their friends, family, partners and friends could all support them, and plenty of noise was made.
The 2,400 who were there added to the occasion no end, and as the crowds get larger and larger over the next number of weeks, the greater the games we can expect!
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.