Hungry Limerick have something in reserve to take next step
The Munster final win was fantastic for hurling, for the team, for manager John Allen, and especially for Limerick’s loyal supporters
And an example of Limerick’s hunger was shown by one incident where Paul Browne gave chase to Cathal Naughton, who had been brought on to run at the defence, and got back to get in a hook. It showed just how tirelessly each man worked on the day. It typified Limerick’s work ethic.
In all areas of the field, there was some powerful hurling from Limerick. Richie McCarthy was again outstanding. They’re physically strong and physically fit and they’ve learned a lot from last year. We must remember they went as far as anyone did last year with Kilkenny in that All-Ireland quarter-final and they’ve improved a lot since then. They’re serious contenders.
This has been the best hurling championship for many years. It reminds me of ’95 and the emergence of Clare. That was a year that any one of a number of counties could have won. This year is the same. We know the draw and it is still hard to call the winner of the All-Ireland. There is a lot of hurling to be played between now and September.
Lurking in long grass
If Limerick’s win was emotional for their unbelievable supporters, there was evidence on Saturday night that Kilkenny still lurk in the long grass. It was fantastic entertainment in Thurles, with both matches only decided in extra-time.
I thought Kilkenny looked vulnerable all through the game. Until extra-time. Waterford actually had a chance to hammer the nail into Kilkenny’s coffin with about 30 seconds to go before that epic piece of play that came to Matt Ruth but they weren’t able to do it. The amazing thing about Kilkenny was the hunger and desire they showed when the match went into extra-time. When it came to mind over body, their desire was fantastic and that extra-time period was by far the best hurling Kilkenny have produced this year. Tommy Walsh and Jackie Tyrell were superb in defence when it mattered most.
It might be a cliché but they haven’t gone away. Their Saturday nights may be over but they have battle-hardened Kilkenny – if they needed it – for the Sundays ahead. Waterford could have done with John Mullane or Stephen Molomphy.
Clare should have won their game in ordinary time. Wexford fought hard, as you’d expect. But the standard was poor. Still, Clare are there and will be dangerous opponents for Galway in the quarter-final. They will come in a little under the radar and are still capable of beating Galway.