Limerick’s glimpse of glory

ON two occasions a year ago, Muiris Gavin was within minutes of captaining Limerick to an historic victory over Kerry in the Munster final.

In the drawn game at the Gaelic Grounds, a couple of late frees dropped short to deny the Shannonsiders, and in Killarney a week later, they surrendered an eight-point lead.

A year on, and the captaincy has been taken over by one of his team-mates, but the desire to beat Kerry is as strong as ever, as Gavin and his colleagues look to finish a job they began 12 months ago.

“Understandably last year’s exploits crop up from time to time, but we have tended not to dwell on the past and to look forward to the present,” said the Monaleen man, who will lead the attack on Sunday.

“Naturally, the game is being viewed by our supporters as the ideal opportunity to make amends for 2004, and it’s always going to be there until such time as we erase that memory.

“What’s past is past, however. Ever since the championship draws were made and the possibility of meeting Kerry was on again, nothing else has occupied our minds.

“We reached a particular standard last year and will have to do that again, and a bit more, if we are to have any chance of beating them. Kerry moved on from those games to claim the ultimate prize, while we have gone in the opposite direction.

“Our league form was very disappointing, but it has to be put in context. A glut of injuries, all at the one time, robbed us of most of our key players.

“If you look back to the league game against Derry, which relegated us, only six of that team are on the starting 15 for Sunday.

“The injuries have finally cleared up, if we play to our potential who knows what will happen. Unlike last year, I’ve noticed Sunday’s game is much more low-key.

“The atmosphere surrounding the fixture is far more relaxed and I think that’s good. There is no pressure on us, we are being written off both inside and outside the county, and that suits us fine.

“Had we played the league with full teams and lost a couple of games, our confidence would have been rocked. As things turned out, everything has worked perfectly for us.

“Since completing our league programme, we have put in a tremendous effort in preparing for this game. The week in La Manga was cruel, but it bonded us together superbly.”

The Limerick selectors have given debuts to three players for Sunday’s match, something Gavin feels could be hugely significant.

“They have all earned their place. Padraig Browne has been around a couple of years and deserves the chance, while Michael Crowley and Seanie Buckley are two excellent young footballers, who will relish the opportunity to show what they can do.

“The infusion of new blood is always important for a team. Things needed to be changed around a bit. If we went into the game the same as last year, Kerry would know what to expect. This way there is some element of surprise.

“At the end of the day Kerry are the team to beat.

“We’ve had some great battles with them in the past. We set a benchmark for ourselves last year and we must get back to that standard for starters, and improve on it if we can.

“I feel we are as ready as we’ll ever be, but four o’clock on Sunday will tell all.”

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