“Growing up, that was your dream to be playing in All-Ireland finals” | Dan Morrissey relishing Croke Park stage

Dan Morrissey is facing into his 3rd All-Ireland appearance with Limerick next weekend, yet the Ahane native’s relationship with the occasion begins long before their win in 2018.

Dan Morrissey’s journey towards becoming an All-Ireland champion began in his back garden, and being the eldest of three brother, Dan would never have to look far for an opponent to test his skills against.

With hurling at the centre of Morrissey’s childhood, so was the All-Ireland. As a child, it was customary for both Dan and his family to attend every All-Ireland final, regardless of who was competing.

Dan attended his first All-Ireland final at the age of 6, when Kilkenny took on Cork in the 1999 final. Since then, Dan and his family have been in the stands for every final since, except for the past few when Dan was on the pitch.

“The All-Ireland final is always a great occasion, It’s always been a weekend that I would have always looked forward to whether Limerick were in it or weren’t in it. Being able to play in one now is just a bit mad when you’re thinking about it, growing up that was your dream to be playing in All-Ireland finals for your county, to be able to live that experience the last few years is just great.”

GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 19/8/2018 Galway vs Limerick Limerick’s Dan Morrissey Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Morrissey endured a positional change from wing to full-back the better part of six month ago. However Morrissey attributes his success in his new position to the man playing directly behind him, Limerick goal-keeper Nickie Quaid

“Nickie’s a super goalie, he has been for the last 9 or 10 years. He’s just so calm behind you and communicates so well so theres never any issues. You can always rely on him to be there, he’s just Mr. Consistency really. It was a seamless transition going back to full-back playing in front of him.”

Dan Morrissey on Nickie Quaid

Thankfully, Dan isn’t experiencing his All-Ireland glory alone, Dan’s brother Tom made his debut for the Limerick senior’s not long after Dan. Both Dan and Tom have been involved in both of Limerick’s recent All-Ireland wins.

“I probably won’t sit back and realise what we’ve won until the day we retire, whenever that is.”

Morrissey is an example of how essential of a role both community and family play within GAA clubs across Limerick. Dan, along with his brother Tom, both played underage hurling with their local club Ahane, situated in Lisnagry, County Limerick.

Despite the towns small size, the GAA club within it has created an inclusive, family orientated environment in with Dan and his brothers could thrive within.

“When we’re in our third final in 4 years, it is a bit surreal. Especially to have Tom there with me as well, it is a special occasion for the family and our club Ahane as well… hurling clubs are all about families really”

8 August 2020; Dan Morrissey of Ahane in action against Gavin O’Mahony of Kilmallock during the Limerick County Senior Hurling Championship Section A Group 2 Round 3 match between Kilmallock and Ahane at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

There’s been no shortage of motivation when it comes to Dan’s future goals with Limerick. Having witnessed the disappointment that came with Limerick’s loss in the 2007 final when Dan was just a spectator, to narrowly missing out on the 2019 final as a player.

As an underage player with Ahane, Dan had few county role models to take heed of. Bar Limerick’s appearance in the 2007 All-Ireland final, it was seldom that Dan and his brothers would have a successful Limerick team to marvel at with just the one final from 1996-2018.

“When I was growing up I would have always gone to All-Ireland finals when I was young, and it would have been rare enough that Limerick would have been in them”

This context is at the core of both Dan and Tom’s drive towards becoming hurlers on a successful Limerick team. Not only is the Limerick they’re on successful, but it is on the brink of becoming a sporting dynasty.

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