Limerick boss Bennis keeps faith in starting 15

Limerick senior hurling manager Richie Bennis has decided to keep faith in the same 15 players who overcame Waterford in the semi-final for Sunday's All-Ireland final showdown with Kilkenny (Croke Park, throw-in 3.30pm).

Limerick senior hurling manager Richie Bennis has decided to keep faith in the same 15 players who overcame Waterford in the semi-final for Sunday's All-Ireland final showdown with Kilkenny (Croke Park, throw-in 3.30pm).

Bennis has been blessed with an injury-free squad ahead of this weekend's decider as Limerick go in search of their first title at the senior grade since 1973, when they ironically beat Kilkenny in the final.

Two goal heroes in the semi-final win over Waterford, Andrew O'Shaughnessy and Donie Ryan, once again retain their places in the full-forward line.

Bennis believes that his attack have been improving with each game this summer and with the full-forward line bagging 5-7 last day out, he is hoping for a repeat performance in Sunday's encounter.

"The forwards got a great supply of ball in our last game and we have a very good bunch of forwards," Bennis said.

"They are getting more confident as the season has been progressing. When we played Clare (in the All-Ireland quarter-final), the players expressed themselves on top of what we had coached them to do and that is a great sign of a team, and against Waterford in the semi they again showed likewise."

The former All-Ireland winner believes that the natural abilities of his players have been breaking through this season.

"They are all picked on their natural ability and you should never take that from a player but only add to it. I think that is a great point of this team."

Limerick's current manager remembers his county's last All-Ireland victory in 1973 very well.

"I have fond memories of 1973 but this will surpass anything when we beat Kilkenny," a confident Bennis stated.

"I am very confident based on the way the players are training. Kilkenny are the best team in the country, there is no denying that and they are a team you would like to aspire to."

Thirty-four years is a long time to wait for another All-Ireland title and Bennis believes that this gap can be bridged this weekend.

"These lads don't just want to be remembered as All-Ireland U-21 medal holders, they want to go for the ultimate which is an All-Ireland senior medal. For the last five years they have been ridiculed and that hurts.

"This year we decided that they could blame the management - I was the seventh manager in six years - but that wasn't going to win matches for them. All of the managers can't be wrong and I didn't mind being blamed, but that wasn't going to win matches for them."

The players subsequently had a meeting among themselves and according to Bennis they have not looked back since.

"You could be saying to yourself 'am I wasting my time?' But if one thought that you would be at nothing."

Bennis believes that his side possess a good strength in depth, but as of yet do not have the All-Ireland senior medals to prove it.

"Kilkenny have great players, you could take the likes of (Aidan) Fogarty who was a sub the last day but was man of the match in the All-Ireland final last year.

"We have a panel of 30 and any of those subs can come in at any given stage and replace a lad who isn't on form or is tired, and give a good account of themselves," he added.

LIMERICK (SHC v Kilkenny) - B Murray; D Reale (capt), S Lucey, S Hickey; P Lawlor, B Geary, M Foley; D O'Grady, M O'Brien; M Fitzgerald, O Moran, S O'Connor; A O'Shaughnessy, B Begley, D Ryan.

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