Inside Track with John McIntyre
THE silence told its own story. The Limerick supporters simply don’t believe in their team as there was hardly a murmur of excitement when captain Diarmuid Byrnes led his men onto the Gaelic Grounds for Sunday’s National Hurling League semi-final against Galway.
In contrast, the Tribesmen’s arrival on the pitch was greeted with much more enthusiasm by their supporters who appeared to have turned up in much the same numbers as Limerick fans in the crowd of 9,523, confirming the absence of local fervour for the fixture.
The bottom line is that Limerick have disappointed too often in the games that count. In this year’s league alone, they have twice lost to Galway and also came unstuck against Wexford. No wonder they have been stuck for so long in Division 1B. Ironically, they have been competitive in under-age ranks, but nurturing that talent through to senior level continues to prove problematic.
This is not a recent issue either. Remember, Limerick captured three All-Ireland U-21 titles on the trot from 2000 to ’02, and yet none of those players even went on to win a Munster senior championship. Their failure to develop talented players is reaching something of a crisis now and unless this squad can turn itself inside out in a matter of weeks, the Shannonsiders are heading for another early championship exit.
It’s against this background, we should appreciate where Galway are currently at. The under-age All-Ireland titles have been drying up, but quality players are still coming through. Micheál Donoghue, Francis Forde and Noel Larkin have their finger on the pulse in this regard and, in a general sense, they must be greatly encouraged by the squad’s response to the surprise loss to Wexford in the second round of Division 1B.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.