Limerick’s central power base impresses Walsh

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh ahead of next Sunday’s Allianz League clash with Tipperary. Kilkenny lost by nine points to Limerick last Sunday, but Walsh said the Cats would ‘be more accustomed’ to the All-Ireland champions if they meet later in the year. Picture: Diarmuid Greene

Kilkenny star Walter Walsh wasn’t biting when asked about his former team-mate Jackie Tyrrell’s recent comments about Limerick.

Tyrrell was widely quoted last week as saying he didn’t put Limerick in the top three hurling counties in the country at present, but the Shannonsiders beat Kilkenny by nine points in Sunday’s Allianz HL clash in Nowlan Park.

Walsh lined out in that game and paid tribute to the All-Ireland champions, saying they are playing “a great brand of hurling”, but he warned that the Cats would “be more accustomed” to their opponents if they met again later in the year.

“Look, it’s kind of hard to know who is where,” said Walsh yesterday. “Looking at that performance, Limerick are definitely right up there. It is February now, but they are playing a great brand of hurling. They are extremely organised and they will be there or thereabouts.

“The way it is, there is nearly a top eight or nine teams, that’s kind of the way it is in hurling at the moment. It is seriously competitive.

“Even the way Limerick set up, you look at that, they were very efficient, they worked well. You could see if we played them again, we’d be more accustomed to how they set up and how they play.

“Definitely, we can look at our own game there are many areas we need to improve on, even our use of the ball, that’s a big thing. We need to work on that. Maybe support play, different things like that when you’re looking back.

“You learn from these things and that makes your experience come greater. It will improve everyone.”

Walsh teased out some of the differences in the way Limerick approach games, pointing to their power and work-rate in the middle third of the field, as a base for their game plan; the big Tullogher-Rosbercon clubman added that Kilkenny would need to counter being outnumbered in those areas of the field.

“They definitely were really attacking breaks and they came up trumps that way, they dropped very far down the field just to swarm that area. They had more numbers than we did, so that’s something that we need to look at. I suppose we were probably outnumbered in certain areas of the field and they won a lot of ball, because of that we need to see how we can counteract that.

“Tipperary play in a different way, so we’ll just need to see how they’re playing, see what we can do to counteract it.

“Again, every game is different, no two games are the same. You need to be thinking on your feet on the field as well.”

Walsh pointed out that Limerick didn’t seem to be suffering from an All-Ireland-winning “hangover”, because most teams stay focused even while celebrating.

“I don’t think many teams are like that (overdoing celebrations).

“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago there was more All-Ireland teams coming back after enjoying the celebrations. It’s gone so competitive now, even in the Limerick squad the guys are pushing each other and driving each other on. They all want to be on the team.

“You saw that when Galway won last year as well. They came back in great shape, as well. You kind of have to. If you don’t, you won’t be that competitive in the league, and that might follow on into the championship. You just need to keep on top of things and they seem to have done that really well.

“Again, see Dublin in the football, they don’t celebrate too much.

They are focused, doing their gym programmes or whatever, keeping fit. That’s the way it’s gone now. You don’t have guys coming back after celebrating too hard.”

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