Limerick ready to deliver
By Cian O'Connell
Brian Geary is delighted that youthful hurlers are being afforded an opportunity to shine.
Geary acknowledges that the age profile of teams throughout the land is decreasing with Clare's splendid 2013 triumph a particularly noteworthy success for emerging talent.
“That was the big one," Geary admits. "Call it what you like, they rode their luck a couple of times, but they got there with a very young team and they’re a top quality team.
"Other managers probably looked at it then and said, ‘come here, are we missing a trick here? We maybe need to throw a few younger fellas in there a bit quicker.
"You can see the age profile across the country now and there’s a huge amount of Under 21s involved. I can’t even tell you how many there is in our panel, but I’m sure it’s over half. With the strength and conditioning side of it starting so young, 15, 16 years of age in schools, they are developing and by the age of 18 or 19 they are probably ready to play seniors."
Having won two of the last three All Ireland Under 21 titles Limerick's players have sampled success, but Geary doesn't think it is right to compare them with the crop who won three in a row at that level between 2000 and 2002.
“They’re a different group of players and they seem to have adjusted to it well," Geary states. "A factor is some of them came through a couple of years ago and they do know a lot of lads on the panel. They’ve adjusted well and they trained very well. Just hats off to them. It’s a learning curve and they’ve a lot more learning to do."
That is why Limerick are anxious to avoid hype and the Treaty panel and management bring a steely focus this year. “Tom (Morrissey) mentioned Caroline Currid there and she has a very important part to play," Geary adds.
"It’s new territory for a number of the lads, a senior semi-final, but the fact that it’s only a two-week gap is something. They are a good group.
"It’s very much around how they are going to play than anything that’s happening outside it. They can worry about that after, they can meet people after but we’re a senior inter-county team and it’s performance-based."
Geary is adamant that the current collection of Limerick hurlers are primed to deliver on the grand stage. “If you go back, their dedication is second to none,' Geary remarks. "If they’re asked to do something they’ll do it. They have been pushed very hard in training, but the overriding factor is enjoyment.
"They were doing x amount and there was improvement. When lads are willing to work that hard, it makes things that bit easier. You’re only as good as your last game, the lads know that and an All-Ireland semi-final is there to be won."
Sunday's Croke Park tussle against Cork isn't short on intrigue.