Limerick’s William O’Donoghue has strongly rejected the assertion that the county slipped up in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Limerick headed into last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny as league champions and fresh off the back of a 12-point hammering of Tipperary in the Munster final, but a ferocious Kilkenny start and 15 Limerick wides contributed to the Treatymen’s exit from the championship.
As Limerick return to the semi-final enclosure this Sunday, O’Donoghue said there was nothing more to last year’s result than Limerick being edged out by the better team on the day.
Wanting to avenge that one-point defeat is not on their radar heading into the clash with Galway, he added.
“I wouldn’t call it slipping up last year. We were beaten by a better team, beaten by a team who had a massive attack, a massive hunger and had some of the best hurlers in the country, so the narrative that it was a slip-up does not make sense to me,” O’Donoghue remarked.
“None of that is driving this year; if you are not hungry enough to want to win an All-Ireland semi-final and if you have to go back 14/15 months to try and find inspiration, you are clutching at straws. I don’t think anyone will be trying to avenge anything.”
In the opposing corner on Sunday will be a face very familiar to O’Donoghue. The Limerick midfielder won two county, two Munster and an All-Ireland club medal during Galway manager Shane O’Neill’s four-year stint at the helm in Na Piarsaigh.
The pair live around the corner from one another and crossed paths on a number of occasions during lockdown when both “were both wandering the roads looking for something to do”.
“I have a great relationship with Shane but that doesn’t really impact anything for Sunday.
“Shane is a fantastic manager and a great people’s person. I would like to think he has had an effect on my career, but every coach I have had in Na Piarsaigh has an influence and all those influences have been very positive.
“Galway are a fantastic side so it is no surprise that Shane has managed to get to an All-Ireland semi-final with them. If anything, there was probably a Leinster there for them to add to their accolades.”
Casting an eye over O’Neill’s latest team, O’Donoghue is expecting a “massive challenge” from the westerners at GAA HQ.
“They seem to be fantastically set up and their work-rate is through the roof, so it is going to take everything we have to get over the line.”
Echoing John Kiely’s call for extended panel members to be allowed attend games such as Sunday’s semi, the 2019 All-Star nomination described how there was a second presentation of the Munster silverware to captain Declan Hannon at their training session two days after overcoming Waterford in the provincial decider, the idea behind it being that everyone was present on this occasion.
“It was just nice to do that with everyone around, all our backroom team, because, as John alluded to and other managers have touched on, there’s 10 players who aren’t with you [on match-day] which is very disappointing.
“There could be guys left at home for a Munster final who could be playing as a starter come Sunday or they could be introduced as a sub. So to go from sitting at home to that, it’s quite unjust and there’s obviously members of our backroom team who aren’t allowed in who do more for us than we’ll ever be able to repay.
“We’re not asking for anything hectic. We’re going to an 82,000-capacity stadium. Would 10 players and a couple of backroom team members make a huge difference?”
O’Donoghue expects the Limerick players will again drive separately this weekend. Making the journey to and from Semple Stadium and Páirc Uí Chaoimh for their three Munster championship outings, O’Donoghue passed the time by calling family and friends.
One particular phone number has tended to take priority each match-day.
“I’d ring my grandmother on the way to the game and on the way back. She lives alone and it’s been a tough few months for her so I give her a shout. She’s absolutely loving having something to watch.
“I suppose we don’t understand how privileged we are to give back to people in this sense and how much it means to people. We’re very appreciative of what it’s doing for people in terms of entertainment and potentially mental health.”