Wexford crushed by Limerick’s top brass

Liam Dunne feels playing four weeks on the trot was asking too much of his players

It’s thumbs up for Limerick and their manager TJ Ryan at  Semple Stadium, Thurles, yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It’s thumbs up for Limerick and their manager TJ Ryan at Semple Stadium, Thurles, yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

With few brass notes to their name all summer, it fell to Limerick to take their place among hurling’s big three after they crushed Wexford in the sunshine yesterday.

The purple and yellow colours were prominent from early afternoon around Thurles town, as Wexford brought with them a sense that their fantastical streak through a hot and dry July could bring them floating through August and . . . anything was possible coming up to two o’clock yesterday.

It was easy for everyone to convince themselves that youth and the wonderful surge of support and the invocation of the spirit of ‘96 (and ’98) could make up for the limits of human endurance.

But no. Liam Dunne’s side ran into a Limerick team that was primed and terrifically structured and sufficiently ruthless to kill off Wexford’s summer in 35 minutes. A total of 2-6 for Shane Dowling by half-time strawberries was the killer statistic: in addition, Limerick had had the luxury of firing 10 first-half wides and dominating Wexford through every sector.

After many lean years, Wexford hurling supporters have enjoyed a fabulous month and refused to quit on their team, cheering lustily when Shane Tomkins fired a consolatory goal in the 62nd minute.

Feel-good factor

“To be fair, I think playing four weeks on the trot at this level isn’t right. It isn’t fair. To play four championship matches with two extra times . . . Jays, you’d want to be a machine,” said Limerick’s TJ Ryan, standing against the corridor afterwards.

“It was going to catch up with them at some stage and I think it was today. Our fellas started well, we got on top and then we got the scores. And adrenaline would have kept them going if they were in front but the boys are professional and they drove on.”

Wexford’s run has been magical but Dunne smiled wryly when asked about the march his team had made. “I don’t know. People were talking about the last three weeks but three years of work went into that,” he pointed out.

“In fairness Limerick, they brought the intensity and we weren’t able to match it. We were always playing second fiddle but you can’t take anything away from Limerick, they were outstanding today and are in an All-Ireland semi-final now.”

Wexford had travelled here in a mood of fierce unity. Keith Rossiter shook off injury concerns to take the field. It was twenty degrees and sunny and the field in Semple looked perfect. Everything was set.

Just maybe

But even then, Wexford were discovering that the limits of what they could ask of themselves.

“My own sense was that you’re hoping everything would be fine,” said Dunne.

“We didn’t do much this week. The epic game against Clare, I suppose, probably took its toll. Limerick were by far the better team today,” he added.

So ended a thrilling if brief revolution. Wexford made the summer but won’t see it out. Limerick march on to Croke Park where they will play Kilkenny for a place in the All-Ireland final. Few brass notes but there they are.

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