Finn's hunger not sated by Limerick's All-Ireland win
By Eoghan Tuohey
The grit, drive and determination that envelops this All-Ireland winning Limerick side has been a revelation.
A youthful squad, they could have been more than forgiven for cutting loose after the remarkable season they have had, culminating in the ending of a famine many thought would last a generation.
Yet, this group oozes professionalism, coolness, character, and an uncanny ability to remain grounded and focused, despite their young demographic.
Instead of gifting the media tales of wild excursions and mischief, Limerick have bucked every trend since the beginning of their conquest by choosing not to subject Liam McCarthy to the pub crawl to make all pub crawls quiver.
That’s not to say they haven’t celebrated this momentous achievement – they have, thoroughly, and deservedly so. Sean Finn epitomises this impressive mind-set, which is most definitely player-driven. Their appetites are far from satisfied.
“Yeah I think so (we’ve handled success well). That’s down to the group of lads that are there,” said Finn.
“They’re naturally able to look after themselves and are well aware that the attention is on them, and how they must carry themselves in those situations.
“I think John (Kiely) has a huge part to play in that as well, and his management, bear in mind that we are young and we can’t get carried away with it. I think a lot of lads have bought into that and the attitude has been good over the last couple of months.
“Obviously, it’s great to get one. A lot of Limerick people in the past don’t have any and they’re probably deserving of one. They could say ‘you must be happy with one’. But we’re young, we’re motivated and we want to win more. Hopefully I have another couple of years in me and hopefully I’ll have a few more to back it up before I do pack it in”.
The question has been posed of late whether this side will be a Kilkenny or a Clare? Will they continue to meet their potential and claim another All-Ireland or two with this current squad, or will they struggle to soar to the same heights of last year?
In reality, the top level of inter-county hurling has regained a high degree of unpredictability and Limerick’s revolution will have an inspired effect, particularly on those teams who have been on the fringe for so long.
Perhaps that is the chief reason for the focus – anyone can truly beat anyone on a given day, and so there is absolutely no room for complacency of any kind. Finn insists that Limerick are more than happy to pick up where they left off as soon as possible.
“I think a lot of lads are (happy to get back early), considering the competitive nature that we have and the training the lads are used to.
“I think after the last few months we’ve had, lads are happy to get back into the routine of training and fitness and stuff like that. I think in the next couple of weeks, we will begin to look forward to it.
“We are a close group and lads enjoy each others’ company, so that helps when you’re going back to training this early in the year.”
Clare have shaped themselves into another top side, and were very unlucky not to make an All-Ireland appearance this year.
Yet there remains a sense that after 2013, while an incredible year for the county, should have yielded another title in the intervening years.
That is the nature of the current championship, and tiny margins often decide big results.
Limerick are aware of it and will be anxious to sow the current crop for all it’s worth, but there will always be uncontrollable variables that can take the wheels off a rolling bandwagon, when it’s least expected.
“Clare in 2013, they probably should have won a couple more,” said Finn. “You’ve to bear that in mind. They were young at the time and they didn’t reach that success. A couple of Limerick teams in the early 2000s probably could have won a couple of All-Ireland’s, so you’ve to bear that in mind.
“(Clare) were there or thereabouts this year and I’m sure they’ll be there or thereabouts next year. It’s got nothing to do with what they did after the All-Ireland, it’s just the way things are, how competitive the championship is. You need a rub of the green and we certainly got it this year. You don’t know if that luck is going to go your way next year.”
A short winter for Limerick fans beckons and a hurling public chomping at the bit for 2019 to get going. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.