Allen 'delighted' for players after Limerick's Munster triumph

Allen 'delighted' for players after Limerick's Munster triumph
Allen and players celebrate yesterday's win

Limerick manager John Allen redirected any post-match praise for himself onto his players as they celebrated ending the county's 17-year Munster hurling famine.

The Shannonsiders claimed their first Munster SHC title since 1996 with a 0-24 to 0-15 final win over Cork at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday evening.

Pat Horgan's sending-off before half-time gave Limerick a numerical advantage for the remainder of the game and as 14-man Cork wilted late on, a run of seven unanswered points sealed it for Limerick.

Afterwards Allen beamed: "I can only appreciate how significant today is, maybe I don't appreciate it enough.

"I can see it in the reaction today and the reaction the last day (against Tipperary) and the build-up to this game that this means a huge amount.

"I am so delighted for the players because they have put in a huge amount of work for this - all inter-county players are hard-working, but these players are very honest and I am thrilled for them.

"This is about the players and everyone else in the backroom team, I am only pulling the strings together right now. It's about a honest hard working group of players."

The famous result continued this summer of hurling shocks with Kilkenny and Galway toppled by Dublin in Leinster, and Tipperary and Cork both falling to Allen's Limerick side in Munster.

When you consider that Dublin and Limerick both competed in Division 1B of the Allianz League this year, their achievements in making the provincial breakthrough are all the more impressive.

Allen has gelled together a team of exuberant youth and battle-hardened experience, with a keen emphasis on players taking leadership of what happens on the pitch - the clever use of Richie McCarthy as the extra man yesterday being an example of that.

"You allow players to be leaders on the field because they have to be - there is no point me shouting from the sideline. Over the last year-and-a-half we have tried to ensure that they know what they are doing," explained the Corkman.

"They knew what to do when we had the extra man and we played it properly. There was a plan and the players stuck to the plan and fair play to them."

Allen, having put one over on his own native county, was particularly thrilled to see the older players get the reward of a Munster medal after soldiering with the county for a number of years.

One of the elder statesmen, Niall Moran, joined his brothers Ollie and James in the Limerick senior set-up in 2003.

Moran enjoyed All-Ireland Under-21 success before that and could be forgiven for thinking that that would translate into regular silverware at senior inter-county level.

However, it has been a long slog for that elusive Munster SHC crown and Moran played his part yesterday as an 'impact sub', scoring one of the closing points along with his former Ardscoil Rís pupils Shane Dowling and Kevin Downes.

"It's a great feeling with minutes to go that we knew we were going to win - often they go down to the wall," added Allen.

"We were able to use five subs and it was great to see Niall Moran come in and get a score and win a Munster medal. I was particularly delighted as one of the older players that he won it on the field."

Shane Dowling, one of the young guns involved at just 20 years of age, was mindful of what this meant to the veterans of the panel when he spoke afterwards.

Both Dowling and victorious captain Donal O'Grady said it was the stuff of dreams to be part of a Munster title-winning Limerick team, with the former giving special mention to both Moran and O'Grady.

"You hear people saying they've dreamed of this or that and you take it with a pinch of salt, but I have dreamt of this for the last couple of nights and I've thought and seen what happened here today," admitted young forward Dowling.

"I live and breathe hurling, that's the same for a lot of the lads. This is my second year in the team and I'm only 20 years of age and I'm after winning a Munster medal.

"You looked at Niall Moran and Donal O'Grady who have waited so long, or even go beyond them to the likes of Ollie Moran and Brian Geary, who just left the panel this year and you have to feel for them."

O'Grady, who was following in the footsteps of 1996 skipper Ciaran Carey, said it was 'hard to put into words' what this meant for Limerick and hurling in the county.

The Granagh-Ballingarry clubman admitted that the squad bottled up the disappointment of losing the Division 1B decider to Dublin in April, with the players evidently determined that they were not going to experience that hurt again in a final.

"It's sport and it is unbelievable - the hair stood on the back of my head with about 10 minutes to go. When we were eight up, I felt we were getting the scores at the right time which is crucial," he said.

"We got two or three and then they came back with one or two but we got one, two, three, four and I remember giving a smile to Wayne Mac (Wayne McNamara) that we were safe.

"I couldn't believe that my father was one of the first on the field and it's about the first time that I have seen him in on the field since I started to hurl. It's just great - we weren't going to leave it after us today."

O'Grady added: "I think losing the Division 1B final was a factor - there was such hurt in that dressing room. It wasn't too long ago and that hurt was there for Tipperary and John Allen drove it home to us about remembering that dressing room.

"The one thing that we drove home was that we wanted to play the game and not the occasion.

"The one thing about Cork is that they are great stick men and they will destroy you if you give them space and you can see that even against 14 men we didn't curb them until the final quarter when we got to grips with the game - we just had to tighten up and eventually we pulled away."

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