Hartigan hails the merits of having a big panel

IF Bernie Hartigan has any regret about Limerick’s last All-Ireland hurling final victory 34 years ago, it’s that he didn’t get to finish the game.

He was replaced in the second half by Tom Ryan, who was to manage the teams which failed in the finals of 1994 (to Offaly) and 1996 (to Wexford).

However, it’s no more than a bad memory at this stage for the former international athlete.

“That’s in the past. It has not cost me a thought over the years,’’ he admitted. “Hurling at the moment is a panel game and definitely we have benefited from using 19 or 20 players in each match.’’

Hartigan, older brother of Pat who was also on the ‘73 side that was captained by clubmate Eamonn Grimes, was one of the four selectors Richie Bennis brought on board last summer after Joe McKenna retired in the wake of the heavy defeat to Clare.

Prior to the ‘interim’ management being re-elected early in September, Hartigan indicated a willingness to continue if his services were required. Most teams work with three selectors, but he points out that the grouping assembled by Bennis has more than proved its effectiveness.

“We all have different things to do. We work well together,’’ he added.

After what he describes as a ‘sluggish’ League campaign, he’s happy to think that their winter preparations are bearing fruit.

“We had a very extensive winter training programme — a lot of weight-lifting and a lot of heavy stuff. It was hard to come into hurling from that build-up — hurling is a reaction game.

“We know we’re underdogs going in against Kilkenny, but it was the same for the semi-final. Winning there gives you a happy feeling about Croke Park. Our players are very comfortable there.’’

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