Limerick senior hurling selector Paul Beary says Wexford’s hurlers have provided the "story of the Championship" with their thrilling wins over Clare and Waterford in the last two weeks.
Limerick take on Wexford on Sunday in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles, and Beary says he and his colleagues aren’t surprised by the Model County’s run of form.
“Personally we’d have seen that coming,” said Beary.
“We played them earlier on this year in the Gaelic Grounds and although we won, Wexford would have had the lion’s share of territory and possession.
“What impressed me most was that they played to a system, all of them, and they were all obviously familiar with it. They’ve kept on improving on that system and getting matches at the highest tempo.
“We were there to watch last Saturday night and they were very impressive. Absolutely, they’re the story of the championship.”
Waterford manager Derek McGrath was quoted in yesterday’s newspaper as saying the Déise were swept along by the tide of emotion associated with the Model County, and Beary sees his point: “I can understand where Derek was coming from, because having been at the game I thought the Wexford support was phenomenal, and it was definitely worth something to them.”
Irish Examiner columnist Dónal Óg Cusack suggested on The Sunday Game last weekend Limerick would need to bring more intensity next Sunday than they did to the Munster final.
“I wouldn’t say we didn’t play with high intensity that day,” said Beary.
“Remember, we scored 24 points, which would often win you a game. That same score was good enough to win Limerick the Munster title the previous year by nine points.
“Maybe it’s a focus or a detailed concentration required at critical points of the game, and not having that was costly.
“At the end of the day you’re playing at the very highest level, and Cork punished us every time they turned the ball over.”
Beary and the management are happy the Limerick players have moved on from their Munster final defeat.
“There’s no substitute for winning but there was an acceptance not too long afterwards that we had to get over it and learn from it, disappointing as it was.
“We did put in a performance, in fairness, it’s not like we didn’t show up on the day, it’s just that the performance came up a little short.
“I think there was general acceptance among management and players that we looked to be in control 20 minutes into the game, eight points to four up and doing well all over the field.
“Then, to use tennis parlance, we started making some unforced errors and Cork got back into it. And in fairness, they took their chances and were probably a bit more clinical than us, and it was 11-8 to them, and it was a remarkable turnaround. In the overall narrative of the game, that was the critical period.”
Beary feels Limerick have the experience now to bounce back.
“The players have experience at their disposal now they didn’t have last year, because at the first defeat last year they were gone. It’s a second chance and we have to learn from the loss — to get ourselves into the right frame of mind as quickly as possible for the next day.
“That’s what we’ve focused on for the last week, and all in all we’d be happy with how the players have gotten their mindset right again. Now we know the opposition so it’s full steam ahead.
“Sunday will be a great day, two great games. We’ve had huge support all year and we need them more than ever Sunday, there’s no doubt about that.”
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