Limerick centre-forward Darragh Treacy says it is high time the Treaty County’s emerging footballers stand out from the shadow of former stalwarts.
Limerick have not secured a Munster championship victory since 2012 and this Saturday’s team to face Clare in the provincial quarter-final is expected to contain just five members of the side defeated in the 2010 Munster final.
Treacy is among the emerging crop given their chance under manager John Brudair; the St Kieran’s footballer earning his championship debut last summer and selected in the half-forward line for all seven league games this spring.
Four Limerick players are expected to make their championship debuts this weekend— Cillian Fahy, Gearóid Hegarty, Stephen Cahill and Peter Nash —and Treacy insists “it is time for the next generation to stand up”.
He recalled: “When I came into the squad in 2012, all the big names were there — the likes of John Galvin and Stephen Lavin.
“It was a great education to play with these lads, who up until then I would have only known from watching on television or from the stands. I was humbled by them, you’d be sitting down next to them in the dressing room and you’d be saying ‘jeeze, I better go out and perform here’.
“They gradually started to retire or opt out over the last number of years. There has been a massive change in the faces you are togging out with in the dressing room.
“The young lads stepped up throughout the league and now we must step up and be counted in the championship. Hopefully we can be the ones to lead Limerick to our first championship win in a few years. I haven’t won a Munster championship game since I came into the squad and I want to change that.”
Brudair’s charges strung back-to-back wins over the concluding weekends of the league to maintain their Division 3 status, but the centre-forward believes there is still a considerable gap to be closed before they are capable of challenging teams higher up the food chain.
“I think the team showed great character to stay up. We needed to beat Clare and Louth to avoid relegation and we pulled out two of our best performances in a long while.
“It would have been a big blow ahead of championship had we been relegated. We are a young team and the more time we spend in the higher divisions, the better we will get. We were playing Armagh this year, last year we were playing Roscommon who are now up in Division 1. They are a different calibre.
“When you are playing in Division 4 and are playing the weaker teams, you don’t realise the gap that is there. That gap only becomes evident when you play the likes of Armagh and Fermanagh and you see lads getting blown off the ball.”
Treacy is pragmatic when admitting the qualifiers represent Limerick’s best chance of a prolonged championship run this summer.
“I know we haven’t performed well in Munster in recent times. But when push has come to shove and when we needed wins, we have pulled them out.
“We have won a good number of games in the qualifiers in recent years and that is something we can continue.
“First, though, we’re focusing on taking down Clare as we’d relish a crack at Cork.”
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