Gaelic Football in Limerick certainly had a decent week and Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale hosted its fair share of it. Big wins for the U-20s and the seniors has continued the positive press that Gaelic Football has received both inside and outside the county.
And almost unnoticed, the county grounds also provided the backdrop for some of the U-13 Development Panel as well as the U-14 County Academy trials. With LIT, Bruff and South Liberties also acting as hubs around the county, almost 300 footballers from U-13 to U-17 were put through their paces, possibly dreaming of celebrating a Munster Championship win or a League Final in Croke Park. They wouldn’t be the only ones!
On Wednesday evening in really tough conditions, the U-20 side dug out a heart-warming win in the Munster Championship against Tipperary. The scheduling of this Championship has brought a lot of justified criticism.
It has proven almost impossible for teams to get any sustained period of training, but I suppose all are in the same situation there. What Wednesday’s game showed though is that the interest and appetite to compete is definitely there for young Limerick footballers.
On a night when 13 players who featured have another year at the grade (another nine on the panel), it was perhaps the “experienced” players who led the way. None more so than captain Adam Shanagher.
Playing in his hometown he drove forward at every opportunity and was ably supported by his half backs Liam Kennedy and his clubmate Barry Coleman, who showed his talent by landing the winning score at the death.
It wasn’t one for the purists but the scenes afterwards showed what it meant to the group, who have a lot of promise in the years ahead. Kerry in the semi final will prove a huge test, but it’s a brilliant game to get at this stage of the players development.
They say a rising tide lifts all boats. Well that rising tide at the minute is being provided by the senior football panel. A crucial “4 pointer” last Sunday versus Wicklow saw a Limerick blitzkrieg in the first quarter set Billy Lee’s men on their way to a 4th win from four in the league.
I said recently how they had been very slow out of the blocks in the games to date. Well that was firmly put to bed at the weekend. The purpliest of purple patches in the opening 20 minutes saw three goals and a 12 point lead built up.
It was liquid football at times with three of the goals coming from defenders and all of the 5-10 coming from play. It had all the signs of a team who were trying to win, as opposed to trying not to lose. The pace with which Limerick moved the ball from back to front was very impressive, in particular from Brian Fanning who is performing superbly so far in the full back position.
To be fair there were willing runners all over the field and at times it was like the Limerick version of the Mighty Ducks Flying V! It was a pleasure to watch in full flow. And yet, and not wanting to play down the performance, which was awesome at times, there is more in this group.
There were two long periods during the game where the scores dried up, and an insistence on going for the jugular every time left some easy scores off the board. It’s nit picking after such a comfortable victory, but it’s something I’m sure the management will make the players aware of in the post match analysis. Especially with the bigger games and more stubborn defences ahead.
Limerick are in a fantastic position now and results elsewhere have helped. But they still need to possibly pick up two more wins, in a league where every point is hard earned. I remember in 2010 when Clare won six from six, but missed out on promotion on the last day.
It’s the classic one game at a time, and a long trip to Antrim at the weekend will be another huge test, but this group have cleared every hurdle put in front of them to date and will travel north in good spirits. These are exciting times indeed for Limerick football at all levels.