The Treaty youngsters sprung a major upset when dumping out last year’s All-Ireland finalists Tipperary three weeks ago in Thurles (3-8 to 0-11), a result they followed up with a second victory on the road seven days later — Waterford conquered on this occasion.
The back-to-back wins propelled Jerry O’Sullivan’s side into the Munster semis, the county’s first appearance at this stage of the competition since 2010. Indeed, the victories over Tipperary and Waterford bettered the county’s total number of minor championships wins between 2011 and 2015.
Needless to add, then, that Limerick will arrive in Páirc Uí Rinn full of confidence.
“We were at their last two games and they were very impressive against Tipperary. They beat them by six points and we beat them by three. Limerick, on the night, could have actually beaten them by more,” reckons Herlihy.
“They seemed to have an eye for goal and are a well-organised team. They know what they are about. They have a good midfield (Josh Ryan and Diarmaid Kelly). They will present a big challenge for us, there is no doubt about that.
“They have played three games, we have played one. It is very hard to replicate championship matches in either training or in challenge games. You can’t underestimate the importance of playing championship games on a regular basis, especially with young lads at minor level. The further you go and the more games you play at championship level, the closer to your strongest team you will get. From that point of view, Limerick do have an advantage. The plus for us is that we are at home and hopefully, that will count for something.”
Cork captain Nathan Walsh is the sole member of Herlihy’s team who played when Cork dispatched Limerick 2-15 to 2-7 in last year’s quarter-final. The year before, Cork had 23 points to spare over the Treaty County. Complacency becomes a risk when the players you’re dealing with have grown up watching Cork teams at all levels score comfortable wins over Limerick. But Herlihy is on guard.
“Graham Canty was part of a star-studded Cork minor team that went to Limerick and they came back beaten. This year, the Limerick U21s could, and should, have beaten Kerry. There is absolutely no fear of complacency on either the part of the management or the players. Your biggest enemy in sport is complacency. If you take something for granted, you could find yourself in trouble.
“We would be trying to educate them about complacency and that comes back to attitude. You can do all the training you like, but unless you have the right attitude, you are going nowhere. The performance of our lads in the last 15 minutes against Tipperary when Tipperary came back at us would tell us these lads have the right attitude. They didn’t panic and showed a bit of maturity which was the most pleasing aspect.”
M White (Clonakilty); L Finn (Mitchelstown), A McCarthy (St Finbarr’s), L O’Donovan (Clonakilty); T Corkery (Cill na Martra), N Walsh (Douglas), R O’Driscoll (Garnish); C Foley (Western Gaels/Kilmichael), S Minihane (Ilen Rovers); S O’Sullivan (Mitchelstown), C O’Callaghan (Eire Og), C Maguire (Castlehaven); D Gore (Kilmacabea), M Buckley (Sam Maguires/Dohenys), S O’Driscoll (Glanmore).
K McMahon (Kilshannig), A Browne (Trinity Gaels/Newmarket), D Scannell (Ahan Gaels/St Mary’s), J McCarthy (Carrigaline), G O’Donoghue (Ballincollig), S Ryan (Ballinascarthy), K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), C O’Mahony (Mitchelstown), D Moynihan (Sliabh Luachra/Ballydesmond).
A Murphy (Fr Casey’s); G Brennan (Claughaun), F Murphy (Kilteely/Dromkeen), D Enright (Monaleen); S Hurley (Newcastlewest), A Kearns (St Senans), O Collins (Adare); J Ryan (Oola), D Kelly (Newcastlewest); J Kiely (Claughaun), C McSweeney (Gearld Griffins), A Storan (Mungret/St Pauls); E O’Mahoney (Ballylanders), A Barrett (Kilmallock), J Ryan (Athea).
W O’Mahony (Oola), E Carew (Monaleen), J Kelly (Monaleen), D Ranahan (Ballysteen), L Cardy (Adare), S Ryan (Athea), C O’Grady (Hospital/Herbertstown), N Loughran (Monaleen), W O’Meara (Ballysteen).