Morrissey and Limerick want to be more than one-hit wonders

Morrissey and Limerick want to be more than one-hit wonders
Galway’s Gearóid McInerney, left, Limerick’s Tom Morrissey, centre, and Clare’s Peter Duggan at yesterday’s Littlewoods Ireland hurling championship launch in Dublin. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Tom Morrissey doesn’t blanch at the question.

There is no pause, no thought that, to answer honestly, could leave him a hostage to fortune, or paint a picture of a county getting ahead of themselves on the back of one admittedly sensational 12-month spell.

So he’s unequivocal when asked if Limerick could move on from recent All-Ireland and league successes. 

If they could make the leap from leaders of hurling’s latest period of glasnost and revolution and join the likes of Kilkenny and Cork as members of the game’s establishment.

“I see no reason why they can’t be anyway,” he explained at yesterday’s Littlewoods Ireland hurling championship launch in Dublin.

“Definitely, with the right structures in place ... I suppose the academy structures are fairly new.

“I am lucky enough that I was part of maybe the first group to come through it and you can see the success that we had at minor, 21s already, and at senior. 

"So, if that continues there would be no reason why we can’t sustain senior success as well.”

Morrissey’s reach for the academy system in framing his answer is hardly surprising.

Introduced by Joe McKenna, Liam Hayes and Eibhear O’Dea eight years ago, the idea has nurtured a generation of players and a culture of excellence that led to last year’s capture of Liam MacCarthy.

Not everyone is a fan of such structures.

Anthony Daly, who was director of the academy for a spell and an obvious advocate, gave an insight into the

Limerick way in one of his Irish Examiner columns prior to the 2018 All-Ireland final while highlighting the opposition of men such as Michael Duignan to the concept.

Morrissey’s take doesn’t chime with the suggestion of elitism. His recollection is of a system which took him to the UL base maybe once a week from U14 to U16, maybe twice a week in the approach to big games.

“It does give maybe that kid with potential who is a step above the rest of his age, to get them into an elite environment to play with others of that standard. 

That is the best way for a kid who wants to make it at this level to improve. It did get me playing with the best from around the county and against the best from other counties, which can only develop your skills for the game.

"And you are exposed to the best of coaches as well to get you in line for what is to come.”

Run correctly, the academy can continue to deliver young gems to the senior ranks for some time to come but the current crop can accommodate that process by continuing to excel and ensure 2018 was not just a one-off.

Limerick have little history when it comes to backing up great deeds. 

The county reached seven All-Ireland finals between 1940 and 2007 and not once did they back them up with so much as a Munster or league title so they are already ahead of the curve there.

Claiming the Allianz Hurling title at Waterford’s expense a month ago added to the sense John Kiely’s side had not overdosed on success over the winter and confirmed that this is a side that will not fall away like so many of their predecessors.

“The past definitely isn’t a motivating factor for us anyway,” said Morrissey. “I suppose what we want is just to create the culture and legacy that Limerick will not just be competitive with teams, but will be competitive and winning trophies on a consistent and regular basis. 

"That is just the culture we want to create in Limerick with this team.

“That’s why winning this league title was important and it showed our ambition to move forward and to win more. Human nature is to be greedy. 

"That’s definitely what we want to be over the course of the next few years.”

Morrissey and Limerick want to be more than one-hit wonders

All of which starts with a May 19th Munster meeting with Cork at the Gaelic Grounds. 

No-one needs reminding about the dog-eat-dog nature of the provincial pen, or of the need to win your opening game and start fast in such a straitened span.

Limerick and Cork won the pair of openers in last year’s round robin and went on to enjoy a lengthy summer.

There are no laggards in Munster. All hold lofty ambitions right now and yet two of them will be kicking their heels come mid-June.

Who is to say Limerick won’t be one of them?

“Yeah, that is a possibility,” said Morrissey. “You look at the five Munster teams and you would say there are five All-Ireland contenders.

“I know we are looking forward to just playing in it, but yeah, as I said, you’d be a fool to look beyond it. 

"Just focus on getting points on the board and specifically that game on May 19.”

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