Morrissey hopeful Limerick will have sustained success
By John Harrington
Tom Morrissey is enjoying what he calls a ‘sos beag’ in the wake of Limerick’s All-Ireland SHC title victory.
But as much as he and his team-mates intend to savour the sensation of bringing the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to the county for the first time in 45 years for a few more weeks yet, they also have one eye on the future too.
A pragmatist would say that Limerick are well positioned to win a lot more silverware in the coming years.
The age-profile of the current team is very young, and hurling in the county is now building on rock-solid foundations.
Ard Scoil Ris are the dominant force in the Harty Cup, the Limerick underage academy is finely tuned, University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College, and Limerick IT are all leading lights in Fitzgibbon Cup hurling, and the Limerick club championship is highly competitive and well-run.
When you look at Limerick hurling in a holistic sense, there’s every reason to believe the county has the structures required for sustained success.
Morrissey is determined that's exactly what transpires in the coming years.
"That’s the word, 'sustain',” said Morrissey when speaking at the launch of the playing kits for the Fenway Hurling Classic in Boston. “And I think it’s very important that we do sustain it. Just because we’ve reached the pinnacle doesn’t mean that you can’t stop.
“I suppose what everyone’s trying to emulate, and I don’t think anyone will, is that Kilkenny team that we’ve just seen with the amount of All Ireland’s that they’ve won. You have to try and sustain that success.
“It’s very difficult, we’ve seen a lot of teams that have won one in recent years and they have found it difficult to add to that one. That has to be our aim and we have to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes that they do.
“There is a lot of talent in that team and it would be a shame not to add to the one title we have. If you ask me now, am I going to finish my career with one All Ireland? I’d tell you straight up, I’d be a very disappointed man.”
One of the reasons Limerick are All-Ireland champions is that they arguably had greater depth to their panel than any other county.
The players who were substitutes for this year’s All-Ireland Final or part of the extended panel that didn’t make the final cut of 26 will all be determined to be part of the first choice XV for next year’s Championship.
Morrissey knows there are players gunning for his jersey so complacency isn’t an option.
“That’s going to be one of the most important factors if we are going to challenge for the All Ireland again next year, you need lads constantly pushing and you need new lads coming in that are going to go and take a few lads jerseys and put the starting 15 under pressure and really make them fight.
“You have to make sure that the standard stays up and no one gets comfortable because complacency will be the biggest enemy of this team.
“I think with the panel this year, you saw by the subs that came on in games and the impact they had, that there’s very little between us.
“There’s no reason that they can’t be starting ahead of you if you are having that off day or off season. I think that will keep everyone on their toes and that will only feed a competitive environment and lead to success.”
Limerick were something of an unknown quantity this year but that won’t be the case in 2019.
Their rivals will have a much keener appreciation now of the sort of game-plan they like to implement, and they’ll also have that added motivation of wanting to knock the reigning champions from their perch.
“That’s something that comes with being All Ireland champions, teams will want to be the ones that dethrone you,” said Morrissey.
“We were no different this year, everyone wanted a scalp off Galway and I think that’s the way it’s going to be for us now next year.
“Again, that’s just a challenge you have to thrive and enjoy and look forward to and make sure it doesn’t happen.”