Are the current crop of Limerick hurlers good enough to challenge in the near future?
Last Saturday a young Limerick side pushed Kilkenny to the brink in the first round of the All Ireland Hurling qualifiers but were eventually overturned by Brian Cody’s charges.
While it should be noted that this Kilkenny is not the team it once was and does not hold the same fear factor for opposing teams. Their exit to Waterford at the weekend only further emphasises the point that Kilkenny should not be held up as Limerick’s yardstick.
You can hear Matt’s full take on Limerick hurling on the link below.
However, the performance of many of Limerick’s young stars have given supporters some solace that this team will be capable of challenging in the near future.
Speaking to Sporting Limerick, the Weekly Observer’s Matt O’Callaghan echoes that sentiment.
“It (the volume of wides) is something that can be corrected going forward. I think the real positive on the whole thing is that Limerick were getting into those positions and creating those chances which is hugely important.
“If they weren’t creating those chance it is then you would have a real problem.”
Whilst it is another year without any silverware or even a win, John Kiely has used many of the 2015 All Ireland Championship winning side with Mike Casey, Sean Finn, David Dempsey and Peter Casey nailing down starting berths. Furthermore, the addition of Kyle Hayes to the set up has seen last years minor captain improve drastically over the course of a year.
“The underlying trend here is very good and very very positive.”
“We have an awful lot of positives to take from the performance on Saturday evening”
O’Callaghan feels that the sheer experience of the Kilkenny side was a major factor in the outcome of the game. Veterans of this level Paul Murphy, Cillian Buckley, Michael Fennelly and TJ Reid were instrumental in the victory.
“It was a very experienced Kilkenny team and when push came to shove in Nowlan Park it was that little bit of extra experience (that pushed Kilkenny over the line).”
Despite saying it every year, Limerick simply need to emerge from 1b. Teams and especially young players need to be battle hardened against the best teams in the Spring time in order to reap the benefits come the white heat of Championship action.
A task that will be made all the harder with one of the All Ireland favourites Galway and a wounded Dublin set to be Limerick’s biggest challengers.
Despite the disappointment around the county, there is much reason to be optimistic heading into 2018.