John Allen hails his Limerick players’ efforts after they keep his home county Cork at arm’s length
“I couldn’t speak highly enough of the players, who have been super”
Limerick’s manager John Allen: achieving the rare feat of guiding two counties to a Munster title. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
In the maelstrom underneath the Mackey Stand, John Allen has a moment of what passes for tranquillity to ponder his feat in leading Limerick to a first Munster hurling title in 17 years and achieving the rare feat of managing two counties to that success seven years after he took his own county Cork to back-to-back successes.
He didn’t see the central sending-off incident, which saw Patrick Horgan red carded and Cork reduced on the stroke of half-time but he said that he’d been wary of the situation.
“Often times when it’s 15 against 14, 15 lose. The big thing is that if there’s a sweeper there should be a very definite sweeper and everyone knows who he is, and there’s saying ‘he wasn’t my man’ and ‘it was somebody else’s man’. Once we decided Richie McCarthy was the sweeper we stuck to that.”
He said he was grateful to get to the break level on the scoreboard never mind a man ahead.
“I was, particularly as I wasn’t too happy with how the inside forwards played, but 10 points all and we had whatever wind was there and given how well we finished the last day and the strength of our bench I felt we were in a good position. Overall I couldn’t speak highly enough of the players, who have been super since I took over.”
The near-capacity crowd had been a vibrant colour party for the team, raising an electric atmosphere on a classically hot summer’s day. Allen reckoned however that the players had been too focused to absorb it. “When you’re inside as player or a selector you’re totally focused on what’s happening on the field. I suppose until the last three or four minutes when we knew we had it won, as we were seven points up at that stage and about three minutes left and we could listen to the crowd and soak up the atmosphere.”
Declan Hannon, one of the rising generation of Limerick stars, reflected on the possibilities now at hand.
“The season’s only beginning. We’ve been building. Last year we nearly beat Tipperary and we ran Kilkenny close, this year we’ve won Munster, but we’re going to knuckle down again now – get the head down and prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final. It’s a new venture for us all.”
Cork veteran Tom Kenny expressed congratulations to his old manager. “I made a point of going over and shaking his hand.
“He is in charge of Limerick and he is doing a fine job. They are in an All-Ireland semi-final now and they won’t be far away from getting into a final or even being the ultimate winners.”