It’s now or never for Limerick footballers

LIAM KEARNS is looking to his new captain Muiris Gavin to help make up for lost time and bring the 2005 Munster Senior Football championship title to Limerick for the first time.

“It is now or never,” declared the boss, still hurting after they had let Kerry off the hook in the Munster final, before losing out narrowly in a replay.

The Shannonsiders are wasting no effort in their preparations for yet another serious assault on the trophy that continues to elude them.

Twice in recent years Kerry have pipped them at the post in the provincial final.

Kearns brought his squad together this week, months ahead of their opening league game in February. Gavin, of the Monaleen club, was installed as captain, replacing Tommy Stack. Towering midfielder John Galvin takes over the vice-captaincy.

Kearns has great faith in solicitor Gavin, top scorer over the last few years, to lead the team to glory.

Limerick had always looked to the reigning county champions to provide a team captain, but that changed when a motion from the Mungret club to allow team managers to select the man of their choice received unanimous approval.

Kearns, who kept the county board waiting for two months before agreeing to carry on for another season, desperately wants silverware in 2005.

“We are getting closer all the time, but getting close is just not good enough any more. We simply have to win the title,” he said.

He has promised a few new faces in his squad to freshen things up. They are also looking to Roscommon for a challenge game.

“We played them last year and it was a worthwhile exercise. I will be using the opportunity to blood a few new players,” added Kearns, who will attend today’s SFC replay between Drom Broadford and Newcastle West at the Gaelic Grounds.

The entire panel has already gone on a weights programme.

“Everyone will be assessed and we will talk them through their own personalised programme,” he added.

Drom-Broadford and Newcastle West get the chance to redeem themselves this afternoon after disappointing in the first match.

“It was chronic, a desperate game, with a very poor standard of football, the ball given away far too easily, by both sides,” admitted Kearns.

However he added: “I thought the Newcastle West midfield pairing of Conor Fitzgerald and John Lydon was reasonably good and the corner-forward, Sean Cronin, finished well, with two good points in the closing minutes, though there was some slack marking there too. Overall, I would concur with the suggestion that this is a chance for both teams to improve their performance.”

As to the likely winner, Drom-Broadford looked the better side in the first half in the drawn game. Given their recent experience - four finals in the last five years - they were expected to drive on from there. That they failed to close the deal was due as much to their own second-half ineptitude as to an improvement in Newcastlewest’s play.

Wing-forward Gareth Noonan was top scorer for Drom-Broadford the last day, Stokes the major play-maker, while the Fitzgerald/Lydon midfield combination and corner-forwards Cronin and Declan Brouder looked most threatening for Newcastlewest.

Good defence will keep a team in a game; good forwards will finish it. Limerick football needs these guys to rise to the occasion this afternoon.

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