Limerick’s hurlers will not be seeking to atone for their flat performance and accompanying defeat to Clare in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final when they face the Banner again in a Munster opener on Sunday.
So believes Nickie Quaid, the man who stood between the sticks for the Shannonsiders that day but whose brief will be a watching one this weekend due to the collarbone injury sustained training last month.
“Clare were a better team on the day,” Quaid explained. “They deserved their win and went on to win the All-Ireland. It’s not something we’ve talked about. It’s two years ago now everyone has moved on.
“The panel has moved on. We’re just focusing on what we can do now. You look back at those games for things you can improve on and hopefully we won’t make the same mistakes we made that day.”
The derby feel to this meeting of neighbours will be increased by the presence of so many players on both sides who played together for Ardscoil Rís and under Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald with Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT).
Quaid doesn’t expect that to add any significant spice to a game which will already be set to simmer come throw-in with both sides approaching the tie with confused form lines and something to prove.
Clare were relegated from Division 1A of the league but ended a campaign overshadowed by tales of unrest within the camp with the nourishment of a greatly-improved performance against Kilkenny. Limerick could, and probably should, have passed them on the way up but let their chance at promotion slip before being bundled out of the knockout stages in the last eight with a dispiriting performance against Dublin.
It makes for something of a guessing game before Sunday afternoon “I expect a very tough game anyway,” said Quaid. “We have played them a good few times in league games, Waterford Crystal Games and championship games and they probably have the upper hand in those games. They were very impressive in their last league game against Kilkenny. I know they were beaten but they were very impressive. Unless we are at our best, we will be under severe pressure.”
Clare followed up that All-Ireland title with a truly awful year in 2014 and few teams know more about such yo-yo fortunes than Limerick, whose teams tend to make waves every decade or so before retreating back into the shadows.
This current crop have had their own issues with maintaining form, most notably in the contrasting fortunes between the league, where they are marooned in 1B and a championship in which they are proving to be a largely more dependable operation. Most boxes have been ticked in positioning the present team for a crack at the biggest prize of all — one that has eluded the county since 1973 — with Quaid pointing to an age group that rests somewhere in the mid-20s as evidence of a side poised to strike.
“We firmly believe we are good enough to win the All-Ireland and we have to back up our performances consistently throughout the championship... we pushed Kilkenny close last year (in the All-Ireland semi-final) but maybe it’s time we took that next step and get over the line in those tough games. Maybe Sunday will be the start of it.”
Limerick (Munster SFC v Clare):
B Scanlon; S O’Dea, J McCarthy, R Browne; I Corbett, C Fahy, S Cahill; T Lee, G Hegarty; J Riordan, P Ranahan, D Treacy; P Nash, S Buckley, I Ryan.
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