LIMERICK selector Ciarán Carey insists the team are “very much a work-in-progress” as they prepare for a Munster senior hurling championship date with Waterford next month.
There was an air of optimism over Shannonside supporters as they left Ennis on Saturday evening following their Allianz League final win over Clare which secured promotion to the top flight.
But Carey knows a sterner challenge awaits when they face Davy Fitzgerald’s men on June 12th.
Carey admitted: “It was a good win, and getting back to Division One has to be a positive. But we’re under no illusions about the challenge facing us now.
“Waterford are a Division One side, with far more experience than us. They have a lot of established players in big positions, the likes of Brick Walsh, Tony Browne, John Mullane, Eoin Kelly, while we’re very much a work-in-progress.”
However Carey isn’t dismissing Limerick’s chances. The Shannonsiders went for youth on Saturday with Nicky Quaid in goal, Gavin O’Mahony and Seamus Hickey down the spine of the defence, while Brian Murray, Stephen Lucey and Brian Geary were kept in reserve.
Teenage forwards Kevin Downes and Declan Hannon got the big goals in the end, but even when there were problems they stuck with the youngsters. In the second half O’Mahony found himself in trouble with the precocious Darach Honan, but rather than turn to the old guard the selectors shifted another youngster, Tom Condon, to the edge of the square with O’Mahony moving to the wing where he curbed the threat of the hitherto rampant John Conlan.
Having managed most of those youngsters when he was in charge of the U21s, Carey is well aware of their abilities. “Stephen and Brian are stronger than most,” he agreed, “but the two guys we started there aren’t any slouches either — Seamus Hickey is over six foot and strong and Gavin O’Mahony is the same.
“This was a great experience for all those young players. We knew going in what we faced, a talented Clare team laced with a lot of young guys who had the winning experience of an All-Ireland U21 title. Clare were also in an All-Ireland minor final last year too against Kilkenny, should have won it. Our lads would have got a lot of game-time in the early rounds of the league but it was good to see them step up to the mark when it was most needed.”
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