Pa Ranahan “Limerick Footballers Long Way Home”

Niamh and myself joined my brother Conor and his wife Brenda along with thousands of other revellers at The Coronas performance in the Limerick Docklands on Sunday evening. It was the perfect antidote for the disappointment of the previous nights Munster Football Semi Final. 

Their tour – The Long Way Home – was a good description of the drive back to Limerick from Páirc Ui Rinn, trying to find some positives from what had been a disastrous evening for the men in green. Slim pickings unfortunately. But as Danny O’Reilly belted out their classics, some positive thoughts did come to mind.

Before getting to those though it would be disingenuous of me to try and paint Saturday evening as anything other than a nightmarish outcome. Having arrived in Cork a couple of hours beforehand, it was heartening to see green pockets of support milling around outside the ground and in the local establishments.

The Tipp result had definitely sparked peoples interests and the talk was cautionary of a good performance and see where that takes Limerick.

Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Semple Stadium, Co. Tipperary 11/5/2019 Tipperary vs Limerick Limerick’s Iain Corbett scores a goal despite Brian Fanning of Limerick Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

From the throw in that hope looked to be well founded when Darragh Treacy and Tommie Childs left the Cork midfield pair in their wake and a sublime ball was delivered first time into Sean McSweeney whose shot deflected off Mark White in the Cork goal, onto the crossbar and agonisingly onto the white chalk of the goal line before bouncing clear.

The dream start so close; the nightmare start followed. The concession of 2-1 within the next 5 minutes did, in reality, finish the game before it had even taken shape. Limerick never got the opportunity to draw breath, to ease their way into it. Shell shocked. If there was a reset button or a time out available I’m sure it would have been availed of immediately.

Unfortunately Cork were in no mood to allow wagons to be circled and with blood in the water there was no let up in their intensity. I mentioned last week how Cork are one of those teams who, when their confidence is up, can be out of sight in a matter of minutes. They were at their ruthless best and had their homework done on Limericks main players and stopped them from having much of an impact.

The most disappointing thing from a Limerick perspective was the ease at which those early goals were conceded. And the reaction after. On a wet night when underfoot conditions were treacherous, backs slipping was always a possibility and so it turned out.

It was a bit naive to leave it so open at the back at times but easy say in hindsight given how well that same defensive unit have been performing. And then when possession did find it’s way into Limerick hands it was lost in contact or through poor decision making under pressure.

Harsh lessons but you win or you learn. Some have said beating Tipp was a poisoned chalice now having suffered such a heavy defeat. And this is where Danny O’Reilly and The Coronas come in.

The lyrics of San Diego Song struck a chord “Cause I’ve been there before but I know better now. We are not wasting our time. We refuse to hide” I know from experience that the best way to develop as a player is be exposed to this level with more regularity.

If you are constantly swimming in the shallow waters you’ll never get where you need to be. “It’s okay to bleed…I’ll take my medicine. This thing could get the better of you if you let it” (Give Me A Minute).

Sure, a beating like this is hardly something to be taking much from. But I guarantee you if that match was played again tomorrow the Limerick players would react and perform much better as a result of having now faced this pace and intensity.

Strangely enough players move on from a result like this fairly quickly, unlike the coaches who will be wondering what can be done to ensure there isn’t a repeat.

The question for the players now though is are they happy to live off that Tipp win. Are they “content with mediocrity and all this nonsense” or “addicted to progress”! It’s great that Saturday didn’t signal the end of the season and that there will be an opportunity in 2 weeks to show people that Saturday was the exception rather than the rule.

“I’ve seen a reaction. Yeah I’ve watched us improve. And you could say we don’t care. Or that we don’t believe. But this is what we’ve got. And there’s nowhere we’d rather be” (Heroes or Ghosts)

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