Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes insists qualifying for the Allianz Hurling League final — a first since 2006 — hadn’t been part of a grand plan for the season. Byrnes, who picked up the man of the match gong after the win against Dublin revealed: “We didn’t aim to be here, we just aim to win every match as we go out. We were in a position today to reach a final and we took our opportunity. You have to go back a long way now (to 2006) and the last league final so we are going to go up and enjoy it.”
They’ve enjoyed the last few months as well, as befits a team which ended a famine of over 40 years without an All-Ireland title. Byrnes stressed that those celebrations are now well and truly over, though.
“They are all in the past now. We can have very bad memories next Sunday if we are looking back on them. We will focus on next Sunday, and focus on ourselves and focus on the game. You have to (wipe the slate clean), but it’s still great, the buzz is still there a small bit and understandably so. Players are mature enough now to stay away from it, mind themselves and stay level-headed, which we have. I think our performances are showing there that we are.”
Limerick certainly appeared hungry last Sunday, driving past Dublin in the second half.
“You want to be winning matches,” said Byrnes. “You want to be winning silverware. There is no point... we are going out training a couple of nights and spending about 30-35 hours a week with each other. That’s not just to see each other. It’s a social thing too. We love each other, but we want to win things.”
Dublin put it up to the All-Ireland champions, but Byrnes’ contribution to the second half run of scores after Seamus Flanagan’s goal was crucial.
“It was tough. They brought massive intensity in the first half. We knew we had to match it in the second half and we did. The frees... it’s four or five points in the space of a couple of minutes.”
There’s just the 22-year gap to bridge, then, to Limerick’s last league title on Sunday. I was three. Peter Casey or Seamus Flanagan might have been in the cot, I’d say!
“We want to win things and we have an opportunity now, we want to just go out and win everything.”
Is there any fear of hitting the wall or burning out, given they’re going so well so early in the year?
“People might be in other counties, I don’t know. They can think what they like, we’ll continue to worry about ourselves. If there is a dip in performance, we will address it and we will drive it on again,” vowed Byrnes.