LIMERICK hurling legend Richie Bennis believes the appointment of new manager Donal O’Grady will ‘automatically heal the wounds’ created by this year’s standoff on Shannonside.
O’Grady is set to be appointed to the hotseat later this week tasked with rebuilding the fortunes of the county’s hurlers after a controversial 2010 when the majority of players refused to play under former boss Justin McCarthy.
Bennis, a member of the last Limerick side to win the All-Ireland, is adamant that there will be no fallout from last year’s debacle when the new man takes the reigns.
“This will automatically heal the wounds of last year,” he said, “as Donal is coming into this job with no agendas.
“It is good appointment. Naturally I would prefer a Limerick man for the job but they could not have got a better man than Donal. I rang him when I was involved with Limerick for advice before the All-Ireland final and he could not have been more helpful. He is approachable and has a bit of charisma. He is a man that will get on well with players and knows how to treat them.”
Bennis, who managed Limerick to the 2007 All-Ireland final, has also welcomed the elevation of some recent county stars into the management team.
He continued: “TJ Ryan, Ciarán Carey and Pat Heffernan are three good hurling men, who were playing up until recently. I think it is a good thing that people have broken away from the 1973 set up (in terms of Limerick management teams). The lads in the 73 set up did their job but it is about time that all of that is put into the past.”
But he warned: “The Limerick public have to be realistic. There is an expectation in some quarters that we should be reaching an All-Ireland final every year.
“But we are not capable of doing that on a regular basis. I think the main thing must be that Limerick hurlers can go out and, on any given day, be capable of beating the top five or six teams.
“The other main goal in 2011 must be getting back into NHL Division One. There is a great fan base in the county who will hopefully start to come back and support the team next year again.
“We had 35,000 to welcome us home when were beaten in the All-Ireland final three years ago.
“Imagine the crowd we would get if this team is successful again. I’m hopeful that it wouldn’t take long before all those hard core supporters are back out supporting their senior team and Limerick hurling is back making the headlines for the right reasons.”
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