Limerick manager TJ Ryan happy to see benefits of hard graft
Davy Fitzgerald praises opponents but says Clare are not far away
Limerick’s Shane Dowling celebrates scoring a point at Semple Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Is there ever an Irish summer when Sunday timekeeping is not a subject of debate?
“I turned to Mark and said there was one minute left,” the Limerick manager TJ Ryan recalled of the closing phase of the game. “I did see four on the board. It was a bit confusing. Look . . . I’d say ye could be writing about it long and hard.”
For the winning manager, all these points of controversy quickly dissolve into irrelevance. Ryan and his squad shook of an indifferent league season to further raise their stock as summertime specialists by coming through an absorbing encounter against the 2013 All-Ireland champions.
“It was a tight game. The first half was probably a bit slow and mightn’t have been a brilliant game but the second half tumbled into action and I thought when we kicked six points up we were in a good position. But they got two great goals and rattled back into it and I have to give huge credit to our guys. The pride and passion they showed in the jersey was incredible. The backroom team as well. Just to get a one-point win today is the hugely satisfying part of it.”
Limerick forward Shane Dowling said that he was “sick to the head” of the general criticism of Limerick during the league season but Ryan just shrugged when asked what he thought of the reaction to Limerick’s performances over the spring.
For Clare, the horizon looks suddenly very different. They waited some two months for this match and now have a six-week lay-off until the qualifiers. The break should mean the return to full fitness of Brendan Bugler and Conor McGrath but as Davy Fitzgerald stressed, personnel is not the problem for his team.
“We’re just going through a rough patch at the moment, for one particular reason or another. But that’s the way it goes and I’m very proud of my guys, very proud of the way they fought, blocked, tackled and hassled. They didn’t deserve to lose that one. It’s tough, losing games by points that you could win.
“But at the same time, I don’t care if we lose the next and go out of the championship, we’ll go back training and we’ll come back next year and the year after. As long as I’m over Clare, we’ll keep fighting. While we might have a few knockers, there are good people in Clare, we have some destructive ones but you have an awful lot of good ones. I’m thrilled with the support we’ve got this year for the team. They stood behind us and fair play to them. They’re good and we’ll do our best for them.
“But I would have awful admiration for Limerick. I thought the way they blocked and tackled and hooked and did everything, fair play to them, they’re a top-class outfit, so they are.
“They’re tough. They’re a very good championship team. But we know we’re there or thereabouts to them.”
If he was experiencing any jitters, he exorcised them fairly quickly.
Bit of nerves
Clare tried two of their sturdiest defenders, first Domhnall O’Donovan and then David McInerney but couldn’t blot out the teenager’s influence. He was the go-to man of the Limerick attack.
“With Domhnall O’Donovan behind me I knew I wasn’t going to get it easy but thankfully I won one or two of them. It was, very physical now. There were no real nasty belts either. If there were belts in the red-card incidents, there was no seriousness in it.”
“I don’t know now, I try them but I don’t know did many of them work. I’d say it happens by accident most of the time. But I’ll try them.”