LIMERICK hurling boss Richie Bennis has launched an astonishing broadside on a number of unnamed players who he claimed “left me down.”
Bennis, speaking in the wake of Saturday’s 10 points All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Offaly, vowed the individuals concerned will never again feature on a squad under his control.
“I accept the blame and hold my hands up but I think some players left me down. To me, it appears this year at least six or eight players treated it as a social event, coming to training on Tuesday and Thursday nights — they broke their hearts in training and then they went drinking,” the Limerick boss told the Limerick Leader.
“I heard the rumours and it is quite possible a few of the players were drinking and they played accordingly.
“I put my hands up and maybe I should have seen that.
“Its time to call a spade a spade. I have given 24-7 to this set-up and if I am there next year, I can tell you those fellas who let me down will not be considered.
“We interviewed every player about six to eight weeks before the Clare and laid down the law to them.
“They gave us a commitment about drinking, training and everything.”
He added: “I can see why the public are annoyed. I was in the stand against Clare in 2006 and I was annoyed. I got involved when no one else wanted it and now I am hurting. Everyone is looking for excuses and I would accept all the criticism that is thrown at me — I find it hard to put my finger on it. Lets be realistic, we have won only one All-Ireland in almost 70 years -of all the hurling counties, we have the worst record.”
Last night Limerick coach Gary Kirby admitted that a member of the senior hurling squad was disciplined for drinking but stressed allegations of widespread ill discipline were no more than rumours.
Said Kirby: “When we heard that (a player was drinking), he went straight down to the bottom of the pile until he got himself in order. If we had knowledge players were drinking we would have confronted the situation straight away.’’
He continued: “I have heard one or two stories about certain players, but I have no proof of it. None of the guys they are talking about missed a training sessions with us. All the guys gave a full commitment to training — and that can’t be questioned. People see a county player having a few drinks and they think he is ‘on a tear.’
“We had over 30 players training every night — and on time. And, any player who was unable to train always rang Richard. It’s unfortunate that this had happened, but I would not question any of the players’ attitude to the way the trained for us. However, against Offaly we looked like a team that did not train.’’
Kirby expressed hope the management would be given one more year, commenting: “people were saying last year we were great and you don’t become bad in a couple of months. But, if we do come back, this will be an issue we would address. Limerick hurling is not going to go anywhere if that is the case.’’
County Board chairman Liam Linehan said a period of ‘mature reflection is needed’ before deciding on the management team’s future.
Said the former selector: “The management team’s term was up after that Offaly game so now we (Limerick GAA officers) will meet and then we will discuss it at the next county board meeting. Everyone is very downbeat — if you go down fighting it is one thing. Certainly we are at a low ebb and there is no quick fix solution — fans are very angry and upset with what they saw. 2007 was great, but 2008 was a downer — we were number two last year and now we are outside the top eight.”
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