Declan Brouder: Last year we showed Limerick could compete

It is exactly 12 months since the Limerick U21 footballers came within a whisker of upsetting Cork in a seven goal Munster quarter-final thriller.

Declan Brouder: Last year we showed Limerick could compete

Indeed Cork were forced to introduce a less-than-fully-fit Brian O’Driscoll to calm matters in the visiting defence entering the final quarter.

The final result may have gone against Declan Brouder’s side (5-8 to 2-12), but the Treaty County can take heart from standing toe-to-toe with a talented Cork bunch.

The problem, however, is that said fixture was 12 months ago and the Shannonsiders have had no chance to build on that display. A handful moved up to the senior squad, for the majority, though, it was a summer spent in club colours.

One year on, Limerick are again pitted against one of the province’s heavy-hitters, Kerry, in their first outing of the campaign.

So, what use to the present Limerick crop, if any, are the 60 minutes of football that left winning Cork manager Sean Hayes “disgusted” with his players.

Only four members of the starting Limerick team for this evening’s semi-final in Tralee were present inside the whitewash at the Gaelic Grounds last March, but manager Brouder said it is a performance that still carry’s significant weight.

“It showed we can compete,” he remarked. “We were never out of that game, we were in the mix right throughout. It gave the players big belief, plenty of confidence. It proved that we could live with the top teams.

“I accept there was no continuity after the game. That, I suppose, is the beauty of the U21 championship. It is one of the last remaining inter-county competitions that is straight knock-out so there is no second chance, irrespective of how close you come. It is all on the night and it will be the very same when we go down to Kerry.”

Jack O’Connor’s side made hard work of 2015 champions Tipperary last Wednesday. Was Brouder present at Austin Stack Park?

“We were training that night so I wasn’t there. We knew from a long way out that we would either be playing last year’s U21 champions or the county who has won the last two All-Ireland minors. It was going to be a big team either way. We’re just focused on ourselves. We have to be.”

Not since 2011 have the Treaty County recorded an U21 championship victory and while the establishment of a football academy last year is specifically aimed at improving Limerick’s abysmal underage record, Brouder is adamant recent trouncings hold no bearing with hi charges. “These lads were U16 in 2011. They weren’t involved in the defeats going back the years. They are trying to make their own journey.”

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