Éamonn Cregan knows Limerick will in time reaps the benefits of a “long-term programme” but fancies they will pose Kilkenny problems tomorrow if they play more direct.
The 1973 All-Ireland winner doesn’t want to see any hesitation in Limerick sending the ball into their attack.
“If they played more direct, I would be happy. I would hate to be a corner-forward at the moment because the ball doesn’t come in fast enough. If Kilkenny can be exposed, it’s when the ball is moved fast. But if Limerick play this short passing game we’re not going to get the ball up to the forwards quick enough and if you don’t do that then you’re not going to score enough.
“If you try to score from 70 or 80 yards out, Kilkenny are going to put pressure on you. Therefore, the tactics for me would be to get the ball inside to at least two forwards as soon as is possible.”
Defenders have as much responsibility to stop attacks as they have in stopping them and Cregan was worried that too many scores came easy to Clare in the Leinster semi-final.
“What worries me is that the opposition is scoring over 20 points so what is wrong with our defence? There are players scoring against Limerick who are doing it without any pressure being put on them.”
It’s the senior players Cregan wants to see standing up for Limerick in Nowlan Park. Cregan says it’s imperative that young players like Kyle Hayes, who impressed against Clare, aren’t weighed down with expectation.
“Kyle Hayes is only 19 and still has a lot to learn. He’s playing his club hurling with Kildimo-Pallashenry so his standard of club hurling wouldn’t be as high as the rest of the senior players.
“We have a lot of prospects coming through but they are going to have to learn the hard way. But knowing a lot of them they have the heart and they have the intelligence. It’s good that they are playing one of the big teams but it’s a tough assignment to go down to Kilkenny and beat them. It’s a huge bonus if they win.
“You just want to see Limerick refuse to give up. To me, it’s a long-term programme and the lads coming through the academy are doing so now and that has taken 10 years. Kilkenny are Kilkenny and, Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, I wouldn’t like to be a Kilkenny player if they lose to Limerick but stranger things have happened. If Limerick play above themselves they might well do it.”
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