Brian Geary: Limerick not minding the gap

The track record of sports psychologist Caroline Currid in elite inter-county Gaelic games — Tyrone 2008, Tipperary 2010, Dublin 2011 — speaks for itself and selector Brian Geary fully recognises the impact she is now making with Limerick. 

But he also insists she is simply topping up the plentiful amount of belief that is already there.

This Limerick group have no rearview mirror, he says. The county’s history is acknowledged, but 1973 isn’t a millstone around their necks. Not in the slightest.

“Obviously, these lads have success in colleges and U21s and they’re used to it, but they want to make their mark on the senior set-up,” says Geary.

“Whether it be 45 years or 100 years [since Limerick’s last All-Ireland SHC title], they don’t mind. It’s all about the group and it’s all about performance.”

 

Whether it’s the audacity of youth, blissful ignorance or simply selfishness, the class of 2018 stare straight ahead. For instance, many of them would have to be reminded that Geary was on the last Limerick team to beat Cork in the championship 17 years ago.

“A long time ago, but you could say that about a lot of counties,” he remarks of that gap. 

“Going back to Kilkenny, we know the timeframe since we beat them last. I know this group don’t look back or look at records. If you asked some of the younger lads, they mightn’t be sure when we played a senior match last in Croke Park (2014 championship versus Kilkenny, 2015 league versus Dublin). It’s very much performance- focused.” 

The 38-year-old featured on a couple of Limerick teams that had plenty of fight for the challenge only to come up short.

“I’m not finished too long myself (Geary retired after the 2012 season) and I don’t want to make comparisons. I think the group of lads don’t want to make their comparisons. This is very much their journey. John [Kiely] and Co are two years into it and there was a lot of work put in last year that only came to fruition this year. There were a couple of hard defeats last year, but the lads learned from it. It’s all about going forward.” 

At the same time, it would be difficult not to contrast the composure of this Limerick group in absorbing the blow of Richie Hogan’s goal last Sunday week to see out the game with the punch of Richie Power’s three-pointer four years ago that felled them.

“They showed great character, there’s no doubting that, but they don’t go back on history. I just know by this group and I’m sure there are other counties that do the same. It’s very much onwards and upwards and what we can do, not what the teams did before us and what records are. It’s important it stays that way, because if it changes, you can take your eye off the ball.

“Because of the gap [to 1973], there’s always going to be talk, but let there be talk outside. It’s not the position of players. I don’t think they want to be talking about it in the first place. They want to get on with their training. No doubt they’re nervous and this and that, but it’s all about Sunday.” 

Geary marvels at what the players have put in.

“Their dedication is second to none. If they’re asked to do something, they’ll do it.

“They have been pushed very hard in training, but the overriding factor is enjoyment. They were doing ‘x’ amount and there was improvement. When lads are willing to work that hard, it makes things that bit easier.

“You’re only as good as your last game, the lads know that and an All-Ireland semi-final is there to be won.” 

Against the tide of change in this Limerick side, Geary’s old team-mate Graeme Mulcahy has tied himself to the mast and excelled. The 28-year-old looks a man reborn this season and Geary lauds his efforts.

“He’s had a great year to date and I’m sure there’s more there. He seems to be bouncing off the ground again. It’s down to what he’s put in. He’s driving up and down from Cork, that’s where he’s living and working. He’s putting in a huge effort, no more or less than other lads.

“When training is done, I’m not exactly sure what lads are doing, but I’m sure they’re doing bits on the side and tweaking little bits and pieces. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working.” 

As their mentor, the dynamic with his former playing colleagues has changed, but they all accept it.

“I played with a good number of the lads. I suppose it’s hard not to park friendships, but they change, obviously. In fairness to the lads, they’ve been excellent. It’s always easier when you’re winning. If you’re losing and things aren’t going well, that’s when things can get a bit strained but come here, we’ve been lucky.”


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