Galway manager Shane O’Neill has revealed that he and the Na Piarsaigh members of the Limerick panel decided to temporarily cease contact following the respective provincial finals.
John Kiely’s Limerick panel contains seven Na Piarsaigh men - David Dempsey, Peter Casey, William O’Donoghue, Conor Boylan, Jerome Boylan, Adrian Breen, and the injured Mike Casey - players O’Neill worked extensively with during the four silverware-laden years, 2014-18, he was at the helm in his native club.
O’Neill would be in regular contact with these players, but once the Hurling Championship was whittled down to six teams, it was agreed they’d keep a healthy distance during the closing stages of the race for Liam MacCarthy.
The Galway boss, in his first year overseeing the Tribesmen, said there was “an inevitability” he would run into his home county in the championship.
“You always felt it was going to happen because we are two of the top teams in the competition," O'Neill remarked.
“Obviously, I know the [Limerick] boys very well, particularly the Na Piarsaigh lads. There are seven of them on the squad.
Plotting and planning to remove Limerick from the championship, O’Neill insisted, hasn’t been a strange experience this week. His deep knowledge of opposition players, he added, could end up being a “hindrance”.
“We would know the players, but that may be a hindrance in that you might have preconceived ideas about players,” the Galway manager continued.
“The day in the League when we played them was maybe a small bit strange. But the whole year has been strange. The fact you are playing in a totally empty Croke Park in an All-Ireland semi-final and even an All-Ireland semi-final in November is a lot stranger than the fact that the management team is from the county we are playing against.”
To overcome Limerick and secure Galway’s fourth All-Ireland final appearance in six years, O’Neill said his players will “have to go to a different level altogether”.
“I thought Limerick were very impressive in the Munster final because I felt that they could have put the foot on the gas at any particular stage. Waterford were impressive and actually took the game to them, but I think Limerick were always in control.
“To have to win three matches just to get out of Munster isn't easy. They had two very dominant displays and one very controlled display in the final.”
O’Neill reported his camp as being injury-free and took great encouragement from the manner of last Saturday's win over 2019 All-Ireland champions Tipperary.
“We knew it was going to be a tough and tight affair with Tipperary, as it always is. The positive of it is to have shown a bit of true grit to actually come out and win it.”