Reidy ready to break mould

PRIOR to 2002, it was easy for Limerick football supporters to recall the good days, simply because there were so few of them!

The highlights package was a fairly short affair. For instance, in the 1988 championship in Askeaton, they seriously troubled a Cork team on the verge of All-Ireland success before eventually losing by three points.

Three years later, they reached their first Munster final since 1965. Again, they came agonisingly close to making the breakthrough against a Kerry team on the decline after the golden years.

Stylish wing-back Damien Reidy from the Gerald Griffins club remembers both games, especially the 1991 decider against Sunday's opponents.

"They went there as no-hopers and gave a very good account of themselves, but they had probably passed their prime," Reidy said.

"After that, there was a long lull for six or seven years, before our success at under-21 level. That, really, has been the rejuvenation of Limerick football."

Reidy's childhood memories are from a period when people seemed to be happy if their team put up a good performance and were almost proud if they came within four or five points of the big guns like Cork or Kerry.

But that was then. Now Reidy and the next generation of footballers are not prepared to put up with that. However, they realised that if they were to be successful, they would have to first break the Munster hoodoo.

Enter Liam Kearns and the development of the players who came off the U21 team and the net result was victory over Kerry in the NFL last year and the earth-shattering win over Cork in Pairc Uí Chaoimh last month.

Now, the biggest test of their careers awaits them.

Clearly, Kearns has had an enormous influence on the team's progression from no-hopers just a few short years ago. Reidy rates him not just a first-rate manager, but as man with a very human touch.

"Generally, he's just a very nice fellow," he said.

"Where we would have been classified in Limerick as number 31 amongst the 32 counties, he instilled a lot of confidence into the players. He possibly makes us believe we are better than what we actually are.

"He's brilliant at that. I see him as a very good motivator. Over the last two years he brought in Dave Moriarty as trainer and everything we do is with the ball, even if it's physical work, hard work, whatever. You can see the improvement it's brought."

Disappointing though the defeat by Westmeath in the Division Two League decider was, Reidy agrees it has worked to the team's advantage.

"Obviously we went in to win. The worst thing about it was not that we lost by a point, but the way it happened. If we had been beaten by 10 points we would have been totally deflated.

"We felt we should have won it, so we went into the Cork game, knowing we were equally as good as Westmeath.

"Liam kept emphasising that unless we beat one of the big teams, we'd always be seen as losers.

"We were very determined not to come out of Cork without a win. In retrospect, losing the League final was probably the best preparation for that game."

Limerick played in Killarney two years ago, when they lost 1-15 to 0-10 to Kerry in the championship. Reidy also has had several games there with UCC against the Kerry U21s and is relishing his return visit.

"Obviously Kerry have an advantage training and playing there constantly but we're not going to dwell on that aspect. It's a beautiful pitch. Really, if you can't play football there, you might as well as forget about it.

"There'll be a big Limerick following and it will possibly be the biggest crowd we've played before. We're just hoping we'll react positively to it!

"This will be a different game to the semi-final. Nobody really knew what we were about in Cork, whereas Kerry have seen us twice. They'll be very much prepared for us. We realise it's going to be very difficult."

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