Gavin O’Mahony spent four years toiling in the green shirt before a Munster hurling championship victory landed on his doorstep. Near-misses, and not so near a miss against Cork in 2010 — the Treaty men simply could not catch a break.
A corner was turned in the Munster-winning campaign of 2013 and Sunday’s scalp of Clare marked Limerick’s fourth provincial championship win in their last five outings. Consistency now bears a much different meaning where Limerick’s current crop are concerned.
“I suppose a huge thing that we put emphasis on is consistency,” said Limerick centre-back O’Mahony. “Even going back through the last 30 years with Limerick, we make a spurt for a year or two, then you wouldn’t go back to Croke Park again for four or five. We were kind of adamant that it’s not good enough.
“You can’t expect to be winning All-Irelands if you’re not contesting semi-finals and finals every year. If you’re not going to be there every year, you can’t just be a flash in a pan, get lucky and win one. You have to keep trying to get back there, keep doing the right things and the result will come.”
Is said attitude, and the winning mentality it has fostered, what moves TJ Ryan’s squad away from the unpredictability long associated with Limerick? “I don’t know what’s different about this team, but look we’ve a good backroom team around us, they keep us very grounded. Things are very focused. There’s no long plan and looking down the road too far. It’s just one training at a time. TJ’s very good at that. You come training, you give it everything, you leave and make sure you’re ready for the next training. That’s the same with the matches. We haven’t put any long-term goals or goal- setting, we just look at the team we’re up against next, and try to dismantle them.
“Tipperary are probably as sick of us as we are of them, but it’s brilliant. Four or five years ago, if we were going into a Munster semi-final against Tipp, we wouldn’t be given a hope. Now, at least, we’ll have a hope. We’ll just hope to get it right and keep injury free.”
O’Mahony said the one-point win over Clare helped greatly to put to bed the disappointment of Kilmallock’s All-Ireland club hurling final no-show on St Patrick’s Day and Limerick’s disappointing league campaign.
“There’s no doubt, we don’t go out to play poorly in the league or to not get promoted. We’ve been there a couple of years now and it’s a kind of a stigma with us, we just never seem to perform... That’s something we’re adamant to prove right. We knew coming down here [to Thurles] there was no other match that meant anything to us other than this one. Unfortunately we’ve another hurdle to climb in Tipperary.”
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