All signs point to Treaty being in rude health

I cannot understand all the pessimism about Limerick, especially in the county itself.

All signs point to Treaty being in rude health

Look at what they achieved last year: Munster champions at both senior and minor level while Na Piarsaigh claimed provincial club honours. That tells me hurling is in good health in Limerick.

What’s causing others to be so pessimistic? Is it because they were in Division 1B of the league and failed yet again to win promotion. Or is it because of the recent managerial issues? Don’t they realise there’s always something happening in Limerick? You’re going to have problems in most counties, that’s natural, but what can’t be forgotten is that Limerick are the defending champions.

Look too to the fact that during the recent problems not a single player came forward to talk about what happened. Again to me, that’s a positive as it shows they never took their eye off the ball.

Yes, I’m sure the Limerick players were disappointed they didn’t win promotion but I know many of these players very well and I know too their focus from the start of the year has been on June 1 and this Munster semi-final against Tipperary in Thurles.

They’re all well aware that if they lose tomorrow, especially if they lose badly, people are going to point to last year and say it was a fluke, that they can win only in the Gaelic Grounds, that this is why they are Munster champions. So many incentives then for Limerick, so much that is already in their favour.

In fairness, and like so many other counties, I think Limerick will love going to Semple Stadium and they’re going there with a very strong hand. Look at the team they’ve picked, no sign of Stephen Walsh, one of the best players they had last year, but replaced now by Seamus Hickey — doesn’t that tell you something? Tipperary will underestimate them at their peril.

I don’t think that’s going to happen, and not just because of last year. Cast your mind back two years, Munster championship again in Semple Stadium, Limerick were ahead of Tipperary by six or seven points well into the second half but ran out of belief. The point is now surely well made — this is a very good team, well worthy of being champions, a team that has failed to perform only in Croke Park.

They have a lot of experience with the likes of Gavin O’Mahony, Wayne McNamara, James Ryan and Donal O’Grady. But it is time now for the youngsters to make an impression, time for Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes, Seanie Tobin and those to step up to the plate. There’s been a lot of talk of these lads for a while, time they delivered. I’m wondering though, will they line out as selected, or will we see a switch between Dowling and Downes?

To Tipperary. The biggest thing they have going for them is their spring campaign — they did operate in Division 1A, did get to a league final and have learned a huge amount about themselves. We saw the effects of that last Sunday when it took Cork so long to settle against Waterford, and there is a chance we could see it again tomorrow.

Tipperary — as usual — are under big pressure, from their own supporters especially. We know fans can be over-expectant at times, over-critical, but they have a point as this Tipp team should have won more in the last few years. I like the new positioning of some of their big players, and I’m thinking of the two Mahers especially, Padraic at full-back and Brendan in the centre. They’ve both played very well in those positions, and I think Tipperary have benefited hugely from their deployments.

A worry though; I’m hearing on the grapevine that Michael Cahill could be in trouble injury-wise; if this is so — and they’re not announcing their team until today — it will be a huge blow for the hosts.

The big question for Tipperary is up front. We know they’re brilliant stickmen, we know they can rack up big scores, but this is going to be a question of how well they’re able to mix it, how much pain they’re willing to take against this good Limerick defence. Tipperary have won very few tight games in recent years, but with home advantage that trend might be reversed tomorrow.

The two Leinster games, I’d go with Wexford over Antrim and if Galway don’t convince against Laois they may as well stay in the West for the rest of this year.

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