Around 13 months ago in Monaleen, a hurling committee was formed.
The six-man committee sat down with each member of the intermediate panel. They listened to what every player had to say and what they were looking for to improve the collective.
The committee then went away and put a new management team in place, headed up by former Tipperary hurler Eoin Brislane.
The whole process was in response to Monaleen’s relegation from the Limerick top flight in October of last year. Almost 14 months on, Monaleen have secured a return ticket to the senior ranks, added a Muster crown to the cabinet, and positioned themselves one hour from an All-Ireland final appearance at Croke Park.
“The committee listened to the players and what they wanted,” explained Brislane. “The players wanted S&C, wanted proper coaching, wanted proper structure. They demanded this.
“The hurling management committee went off and met with different managers, and we ended up getting the job. It just clicked. But it came from the players. The amount of support I have had has been incredible. Whatever we needed, it was there for the players. In fairness to the players, they backed it up.”
Yesterday’s Munster club intermediate final was their latest backing-it-up episode.
Their opponents Roscrea had struck five goals across their two most recent outings. They didn’t raise a single green flag here. Hat tip to the excellent Jamie Power on that front. Indeed, Roscrea only managed one point from play in the 28 minutes after half-time. The other four points hit during this period were Luke Cashin frees.
The second half and its beginning was the crucial period of this provincial decider. Ahead by 0-11 to 0-10 at the break, the Limerick champions outgunned their opponents 0-7 to 0-1 in the 10 minutes after half-time.
It was a burst that put seven between them. It was a burst during which 15-point contributor Mark O’Dwyer converted five frees. Ronan Lyons and Ed Doyle were also on the mark as the Limerick lads stretched their legs and their lead.
Full-forward Doyle was to be a pivotal actor later again in this decider. Roscrea fought and fought to peg back the seven-point deficit. A minute from the hour, the Tipperary champions, led by Alan Tynan and sharpshooter Cashin, were back within five, 0-22 to 0-17.
Then arrived a Doyle goal to both kill the Roscrea revival and guarantee Monaleen an All-Ireland semi-final against either Trim of Meath or Wicklow’s Bray Emmets.
The first half was contradictory. A dozen wides had been split evenly between the sides as early as the 13th minute. Both radars had had a Sunday lie in. The overworked umpires were flat out waving.
The 12 wides dwarfed the four points registered during these opening 13 minutes, also split evenly between the sides. We also had a Monaleen saved goal chance. The target was as elusive as it was evasive.
And then, like the flick of a light switch, the floodgates opened. A drought to a deluge. A dozen points, again split evenly, in 10 minutes. A 10-minute period that contained not a single wide.
The opening half was level eight times. It finished with Monaleen 0-11 to 0-10 in front.
O’Dwyer, the game’s top scorer, and corner-forward colleague Donnacha Ó Dálaigh were the two names cropping up again and again over the half time cup of tea. At the other end, Cashin, Evan Fitzpatrick, and Conor Sheedy were doing as much as they were let.
But Roscrea lost a yard of pace on their opponents at the beginning of the second half. That yard became a couple of metres. The gap eventually became too big to bridge.
Monaleen, the first Limerick winners of this Munster competition in 11 years, march on.
M O’Dwyer (0-15, 0-11 frees); E Doyle (1-1); D Ó Dálaigh (0-2); R Lyons, J Fitzgerald, L McHale, A La Touche Cosgrave (0-1 each).
L Cashin (0-11, 0-9 frees); C Sheedy, E Fitzpatrick (0-3 each); S Fletcher (0-1).
J Power; J Porter, B Canny, S Griffin; L Lyons, R Lyons, L Morrison; J Fitzgerald, L McHale; D Power, M O’Dwyer, A La Touche Cosgrave; L Murphy, E Doyle, D Ó Dálaigh.
D Moloney for D Power (45); D Golden O’Mahony for La Touche Cosgrave (62); B Hayes for Ó Dálaigh (63); E O’Driscoll for O’Dwyer (64).
Daryl Ryan; S Davis, K McMahon, J Synott; D Tynan, D O’Connor, M Campion; Dan Ryan, A Tynan; C Sheedy, S Fletcher, E Fitzpatrick; L Cashin, S Conlon, K Lee.
A Booth for Davis (30-31 temporary); A Booth for Synott, C Dooley for Lee (both 43); J Fitzpatrick for Conlon (54).
C O’Regan (Cork).