Dan Morrissey was among the thousands of Limerick supporters who took station on the Gaelic Grounds terrace the afternoon of the 2013 Munster hurling final.
Although he had been called in for a couple of training sessions that summer by then manager John Allen, Morrissey was very much a spectator when the Treaty County outgunned Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Cork.
The 0-24 to 0-15 victory represented Limerick’s first Munster hurling final triumph since 1996 and while the county had appeared in just two deciders in the intervening 17 years, Morrissey, then 20, was no stranger to Munster final afternoon.
His father had long since whetted his appetite by regularly bringing him along to provincial championship clashes throughout the noughties.
“I remember going to Munster finals as a child, Limerick might not have been in them, but you would have had Cork, Waterford, or Tipperary playing and you’d always dream of winning a Munster championship with your county,” begins the All-Star half-back.
“The 2004 Cork-Waterford final when Waterford were a man down and won by a point sticks out. Those Waterford teams in the mid-noughties were great teams to watch. They have a few Munster medals and we’d love to add a few.
“2013, obviously, stands out too but I’m probably being a bit biased,” Morrissey adds, recalling the dramatic scenes where the Limerick supporters congregated along the sideline and endline a minute or so before referee James McGrath sounded the final whistle.
“At that stage, Limerick hadn’t tasted success in so long. Lads were just mad to get on the pitch. It was a great Munster championship that year. I was in the training squad for whenever they were doing 15-on-15 games, but I wasn’t on the official championship squad or anything like that.
“I was up in the terrace watching on with a few friends. It was a great day.
It was the first big trophy that Limerick had won in a good few years. Full house in the Gaelic Grounds in the middle of summer, there hadn’t been a game like that for a good few years.
From that match-day 26, goalkeeper Nickie Quaid, defenders Tom Condon, Richie McCarthy, and Declan Hannon, midfielder Paul Browne, and forwards Kevin Downes, Shane Dowling, and Graeme Mulcahy are still part of the Treaty set-up.
But of the remaining members of John Kiely’s 37-man championship panel, including 15 players who featured in the recent league final win, a Munster medal is not part of their collection.
“75% of the panel doesn’t have a Munster medal so that is definitely a medal we would like to add,” continues the 26-year old Ahane defender.
“A Munster championship medal is something you grow up dreaming of having. When you are playing senior inter-county, a national league, Munster, and All-Ireland are the three medals you want to win.
“Thankfully, we’ve won two of them over the last nine months. Those nine months have been a bit mad. You walk down the street and people will be congratulating you. Walk into a shop and people congratulate you. Whereas go back two or three years and you could walk down the street no bother, nobody would recognise you at all.
“The Munster championship is the next big one we want to win. I just missed out on a Munster medal in 2013. Inter-county careers are so short at the minute that you want to win as much as you can while you are playing.”
Mind you, that they missed out on the provincial decider last year and instead travelled the scenic road to Croker did them no harm at all. Morrissey is adamant, though, that the direct route is the one they’re targeting in the weeks ahead.
“We know the five teams in Munster are All-Ireland contenders, let alone Munster contenders. We know it is going to be so hard to finish in the top three, but we would prefer to go the direct route. We’d like to get into a Munster final, win, and get into an All-Ireland semi-final.
“Obviously, if that doesn’t happen, we’d like to finish third and get through. The five teams, there is only going to be a puck of the ball in every game.
“There is no game where you are going to be guaranteed a win.”