David Dempsey still learning as he goes
By John Harrington
Limerick and Na Piarsaigh forward, David Dempsey, is a rising star of the game, but he knows he still has a lot to learn.
That much became very apparent to him last year when he came up against Kilkenny’s Paul Murphy in the All-Ireland SHC Qualifiers.
Dempsey had earned his place in the Limerick team after a series of positive performances in the League, but he found out the hard way that coming up against a seasoned veteran like Murphy in Championship hurling was a whole different ball-game.
“Their experience got them over the line and some of their big players,” said Dempsey.
“It was a learning curve for myself. I was on Paul Murphy, and just to mark someone of his calibre, with what he’s achieved over the years, it was pretty surreal.
“He really gave me a good kick up the arse, as to where you have to be and want to be at this level.”
Dempsey plans to put those lessons to good use with Limerick this year, but for now at least he’s focused fully on Na Piarsaigh’s quest to win a second AIB All-Ireland Club SHC in three years.
They looked very impressive when winning a fourth Munster title in seven years and Dempsey is confident they’re going into Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Ulster champions Slaughtneil in good shape.
“Everything’s been going well,” said Dempsey. “We took a break over Christmas and came back again in the New Year.
“It’s sort of like starting a new championship since the start of January. Everything’s good, we’ve a full squad to pick from, so things are coming together for us. Shane Dowling is back, it’s picking up nicely.
“It’ll be 12 weeks on Saturday since the Munster final but for us, we’ve had 2 or 3 injuries so it was a timely break for us.
“You need to manage it well, but we’ve a bit of experience over the last couple of years, and as I said, since the start of January we kicked things on.
“We’ve head six weeks of hard training for this.”
Na Piarsaigh are hot favourites with the bookies to win on Saturday, but Dempsey is wary of the Slaughtneil challenge and happy to win ugly.
“Just like all semi-finals, it doesn’t matter if you win by one point or ten points, it’s just all about reaching that final,” he said.
“We’ve a bit of experience against the northern teams. In 2011, they played Loughgiel and then it was Cushendall in the All-Ireland final in 2016.
“The crowd and their enthusiasm for hurling is second to none. We’re expecting absolutely nothing different against Slaughtneil, their love for hurling is just as much as us.
“Their intensity will be massive so we have to be ready for it.”