Tom Morrissey views return of sports psychologist as key to Limerick’s ‘edge’

Player says he has learned not to put enormous pressure on himself on match days

 Limerick’s Tom Morrissey: ‘Experience does bring calmness.’ Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Limerick’s Tom Morrissey: ‘Experience does bring calmness.’ Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho


Tom Morrissey is listing off some of the reasons Limerick possibly got caught in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, careful it seems not to give one any great emphasis or meaning over the others.

In no particular order then Morrissey comes to performance coach and sports psychologist Caroline Currid, who after working with the Limerick team behind the scenes of their 2018 All-Ireland win, the county’s first since 1973, opted out last year.

Coincidence or otherwise, Limerick lost their chance to secure back-to-back hurling titles when losing that 2019 semi-final to Kilkenny; then, otherwise coincidentally, the Limerick management reached out to Currid at the start of 2020, and they haven’t lost a hurling match all year.

“There’s no secret that Caroline is very successful at what she does,” says Morrissey, which is no exaggeration: Currid has been involved in four All-Ireland winning teams, the Sligo native previously working with the Tyrone footballers (2008), the Tipperary hurlers (2010) and the Dublin footballers (2011).

“She first came in with us in 2017, for an initial two-year stint,” says Morrissey. “Her being involved with the set-up, it’s not a coincidence that we have been successful in the years she has been with us. She’s a top, top woman. She does have a big influence. She does maybe give us that edge that you need to be competitive at this level.

Competitive advantage

“As do many people involved in that management and backroom. We’re surrounded by a lot of top-class people. They each give us a competitive advantage that you need to have over other teams at this level.”

For Morrissey, who enjoyed one of his best days in a Limerick jersey when scoring 0-6 in the semi-final win over Galway (including one free), there’s no great secret to what Currid brings to the players either.

“Every young fella going out playing for his county, whether playing minor championship or under-21, you’re just mad to do well. You want to do your best. You probably put too much pressure on yourself. Maybe being more relaxed and having people like Caroline involved in that regard.

“That’s her field, to get players to be relaxed and perform and be at their peak on match day. But it also comes with playing so much in big games with Limerick, that itself is a help. You learn to not give yourself those unrealistic expectations, putting those enormous pressures on yourself going out on match day. You’re only going out to do your best and work hard. Things will usually fall then in place.”

With his older brother Dan now equally settled in the Limerick defence, Morrissey has other reasons to update about Limerick’s prospects going into the final showdown against Waterford on Sunday. Perhaps the only way they could fully amend for last year’s semi-final defeat is to finish 2020 unbeaten.

“On last year,” he says, “we dealt with it, when we regrouped at the start of the year. It was mentioned, losing that semi-final and obviously we just wanted to, I’m not going to say right that wrong, but we wanted to prove to ourselves that that isn’t us. We came out and had a flat performance for the first 20 minutes and then Kilkenny being Kilkenny, they know how to win and they kept us at bay and didn’t let us draw level.

“But I think it was maybe a small bit of a motivation, we wanted to go one step further. I think it was just a motivation not to let ourselves get completely dominated by a team this year, for a patch of 20 minutes or 10 minutes or whatever it is. We don’t want our season to end over that.”

Whatever back-to-back All-Irelands, winning a second title, in either hurling or football, will usually separate the good teams from the great ones. Morrissey gives it some feeling thought.

Current focus

“I think that’s more a question for when I finish my career. In my eyes, if we do want to be a great team, it’s to push on and obviously win an All-Ireland or a few more.

“At the moment, current focus is living in the now and winning every game and every trophy that is there to be won each year we go out in each competition we play in. We’re a very ambitious group. We were lucky enough to have success at underage as well. My group, we started at under-16, won an All-Ireland, back-to-back Munster minors. Have two Munster under-21s and two All-Ireland under-21s as well.

“I know I was lucky to be on those teams but success was ingrained in us, so I wouldn’t say that we’re exceeding expectations with everything we’ve done thus far.

“Definitely that experience does bring calmness. I know this year is different to others. Usually, running out for Munster final day, or Croke Park for an All-Ireland semi-final, I was trying to reflect going out against Galway, it was definitely a bit more relaxed. I didn’t know whether to put it down to playing in an empty stadium but that would generate increased nerves, especially on match day.

“You’re able to get your feel for the game that bit easier. Those nerves aren’t there. You could see that in the players as well the way we’re playing. There is a lot more composure on the ball, games are high scoring. The fact that it’s an empty stadium allows for it to be that bit more relaxed and composed on the ball and you can see that in the performances.”

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