While many may have crumbled under such pressure, Limerick stood up to the challenge they faced on Sunday in booking another Munster final berth.
A lot was made by the media of Limericks recent slump ahead of their final round game with Cork in the Munster championship. A 17 game unbeaten streak in the championship was snapped at the hands of Clare as John Kiely’s men followed that result up with a draw to Tipperary.
The Shannonsiders were on the verge of being knocked out of the championship in May, and many began to wonder, was it the end of the road for this phenomenal side?
Four consecutive Munster titles in a row, Limerick thought the fifth was out of reach and they were simply playing for survival against the Rebels on Sunday afternoon.
However, remarkable events in Thurles saw Tipperary slip to third, with Limerick leapfrogging them into second following their win in the TUS Gaelic Grounds, and earning their Munster final. place.
Tom Morrissey chipped in with two points Sunday, and the Ahane man spoke of the “buzz” around the team.
“There’s just a buzz there really at the moment, nothing else has sunk in. We came to just make sure we got through to the All-Ireland series. Controlling the controllables, unfortunately with the way things went, all we could control today was getting a win and ensure our place. To get the news that the Munster final awaits, it’s an absolute buzz going around that dressing room.”
While many may have crumbled under such pressure, Limerick stood up to the challenge they faced on Sunday against Cork, whose season was also on the line.
This Limerick team has the advantage of experience on their side with four Munster titles in a row and four All-Ireland’s secured in the last five years. Having gone on so many successful runs, they know exactly what to do and Morrissey didn’t hesitate in citing the experience he and his teammates possess, stating that they’ve “been around the block a long time.”
“We have a lot of experience. Each player might be different, I have words blocked on Twitter, I don’t see much of it, there is ways to shelter yourself from it.”
The ability to block out noise from outside the camp should not be understated with Limerick lauded as unstoppable favourites prior to the championship and written off in parts just three rounds later.
Despite any outside noise, Kiely’s men have proven to be tightly knit, and have belief in the process and the journey they are on. Morrissey’s words were echoed by Diarmaid Byrnes who was awarded the man of the match award as he gave a monster display, scoring 1-4 from wing back.
The reigning Hurler of the Year gave a powerful interview after the game, in which he reinforced Morrissey’s words on the experience of the side and dealing with “outside noise.”
“We are far too experienced for that as a group, we dont let any of that into our circle. The pundits have to come up with something to write about, unfortunately its us. The championship is so competitive, there is nothing in it any day you go out. We are thankful to progress.”
After all the supposed fallout online following disappointing results, Limerick find themselves back where they have been for the last four years, in the Munster final.
It is testament to the mentality Kiely has instilled in his squad, that they will not be affected by what is said about them as they prepare for a home clash with Clare in the bid to secure a historic five in a row.
Much will be written of the rematch in the coming weeks but the focus for Kiely and co will be simply on themselves as they bid to right the wrongs of the round robin game.
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