Tom Morrissey seeking cure for sluggish Limerick starts

John Kiely’s charges opened their 2020 league campaign with victory over Tipperary last weekend, but only after they reeled in a Tipperary advantage which had swelled to 10 points early in the second-half.
Tom Morrissey seeking cure for sluggish Limerick starts
Tom Morrissey says Limerick need to rectify their ‘weak link’ for allowing opposing teams build up a big lead, a habit that cost them dearly in last year’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Kilkenny. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Tom Morrissey says the Limerick hurlers have to rectify their “weak link” of handing teams eight, nine, and 10-point leads during games.

John Kiely’s charges opened their 2020 league campaign with victory over Tipperary last weekend, but only after they reeled in a Tipperary advantage which had swelled to 10 points early in the second-half.

Saturday’s Thurles comeback certainly wasn’t a once-off for this Limerick side, the 2018 All-Ireland champions having developed a reputation for being able to claw back sizeable deficits.

Limerick’s second league outing is a home fixture against Galway this Sunday and it was against the Tribesmen, in March of 2018, when this Treaty group first pulled back a lead of near double-digit proportions.

Behind by eight at the interval, the visitors to Pearse Stadium won the second-half by 1-11 to 0-4 to secure a two-point victory and, in the process, promotion to the league’s top-tier.

Later that season, they reeled in a six-point Cork lead with nine minutes remaining in the All-Ireland semi-final. It was almost more of the same in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final as Kilkenny’s nine-point advantage, established after a quarter of an hour, was chiseled to one by the finish.

Each comeback reaffirms the character in this Limerick side, according to half-forward Morrissey, but he knows they cannot continue to allow teams establish large margins over them and hope on each occasion to come out on the right side of the result.

“At half-time against Tipperary on Saturday, there was always the belief we could claw it back," said Morrissey.

We had the belief within us to get the better of Tipp and dominate the second-half to get the win.

“Psychologically, it’s important that if we are faced with adversity in the future and when you are in those sticky situations, [a comeback like that] increases the belief that you will be able to pull yourself out and come out on top.”

Morrissey continued: “Against Kilkenny last year, I wouldn’t say [it was] complacency. I know people were talking about the large gap [between the Munster final and All-Ireland semi], but I don’t know what it was. It was an utter slow start by us.

It is something we will have to look at because that day obviously cost us.

“We are not going to come back every time like we did on Saturday, bridge those gaps, and come out on top. It is definitely something we have to be aware of going into games. It is great that we can look at the second-half from the last night and even the Kilkenny game where we got back within a point and showed a great performance after 20 minutes.

“It is great we have that in our locker, but you cannot be dependent on that each day you go out. You need to be able to perform for the full 70 minutes, particularly the start.

“Maybe, it is a weak link we have at the minute that we need to ensure we rectify going forward.”

Galway and Limerick have not crossed paths since the 2018 All-Ireland final, while Sunday marks their first league meeting since Limerick’s Salthill comeback that same year. Morrissey describes the latter as a “milestone” win.

Definitely that win was huge for us as a group and probably kick-started the confidence and belief we showed throughout 2018 to go on and win the All-Ireland.

Would they have won the All-Ireland had they not beaten Galway that March afternoon?

“I don’t know. That’s a hard one to answer. There’s no denying it was a hugely significant moment for us as a group of players and management.

“It was definitely the first major win we had had against a big team in a knockout-like game and it stood to us going forward that year.”

While there has been change in the Limerick backroom team with Donal O’Grady replacing Brian Geary as selector, Morrissey said the players were determined that John Kiely remained on for a fourth year.

“We definitely didn’t want him to draw a line under it. We wanted him to stay on, and stay with us, hopefully, for a few years. He’s an absolutely top manager.”

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