Moran pleased with Mattie Kenny appointment
By Eoghan Tuohey
Limerick’s triumph in this year's hurling championship will have shone a beacon of hope to all of those competing in the race for the Liam McCarthy cup.
But perhaps none will emerge with such a renewed sense of optimism that such heights can be attained than the Dublin hurlers, so often competitive with, and indeed victors over Limerick in the past.
The unexpected loss of Pat Gilroy after only one year at the helm is a blow, but his replacement, Mattie Kenny, enters the fray with a plethora of experience and will be keen to hit the ground running.
Versatile and dependable defender, Seán Moran, is very pleased with the appointment of Kenny, having played under him with Cuala.
“He did a lot with the club,” said Moran. “He’s hurling obsessed, he’s a great manager, and he’s, I don’t know would you call it callous, but he brought us to where we were. He was great, working with him was brilliant. He brought a real belief within the squad, there’s no reason why it can’t be transferred over to Dublin.”
Moran was fortunate to be part of a golden era of players with Cuala, having been victorious in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons. They have since exited the championship at the county semi-final stage to Ballyboden, but this has freed Kenny up to take on his next challenge.
“It’s hard to put your finger on it (how this Cuala group were so successful). It’s a group of players coming together at a certain time. If there’s a good core of players within five years of each other, all the pieces just kind of fell into place, the right manager, the right players, the right time. In a sense, you can get lucky in these circumstances.”
Any side that can defeat the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland club champions are worthy of respect, and Moran believes that Ballyboden will be a match for any of the remaining teams.
“They’re definitely capable (of winning the Leinster & All-Ireland titles). We saw, like, the competition in Dublin is very strong. ‘Boden had a great season this year. They had a tough road to the final, some replays. We wish them the best of luck in their endeavours.”
The man who famously rescued a replay for Cuala in last year’s drawn All-Ireland final admits that Gilroy’s premature departure is not ideal, and yet he is better placed than anyone to realise how much Kenny can bring to the table.
“These things happen, there was unforeseen circumstances with Pat’s work, which took him abroad for his work, these are things we can’t control, we’re not going to focus on those things, and we’re just going to focus on what we can control, and try and build on what we had last year to this year.”
The squad is well aware of the new manager’s achievements, and are chomping at the bit to resume, having exited the Leinster championship early last season, following on from three very narrow defeats to Kilkenny, Wexford and Galway.
“Ah yeah, (they are excited) they’ve seen what he can do, that he’s been successful with the club, they’re looking forward and they’re looking forward to see what he brings to the county set up.
“It’s very important (to have a good league campaign) to set off as you mean to go on, we’re just focusing on getting a good pre-season in and getting all the pieces in place to set us up for the league.
“Leinster is very tight. We’re just going to focus on getting the best out of ourselves, if we play to our ability, we can compete at the top. So, yeah, it is very close at the top but we’re going to do the best we can to be as good as we can be.”
Since 2013, the Dublin hurlers have regressed somewhat, but the potential and talent has always been there to gain meaningful results on the field if it's properly nurtured.
Limerick have shown that there is plenty within the less traditional strongholds to shake up the status quo and make a serious attempt at the ultimate accolade.