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Shane Dowling struck a goal for Limerick against Galway at Croke Park on Sunday.
Shane Dowling struck a goal for Limerick against Galway at Croke Park on Sunday.

Shane Dowling: 'It’s probably the greatest All-Ireland ever won'

By Cian O’Connell

Few could dispute Shane Dowling’s assertion that Sunday’s Limerick’s success represented ‘the greatest All Ireland ever won’ because of the list of counties the Treaty defeated.

Bluebloods Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Cork were toppled, the 2017 finalists Galway and Waterford also suffered defeat to Limerick.

It was an adventure packed with drama, but most importantly for the green and white brigade, Limerick triumphs.

Unsurprisingly the celebrations were wild and Dowling acknowledged Limerick’s heroics. “What makes me smile as well, and I’m probably being biased here, but it’s probably the greatest All-Ireland ever won,” Dowling stated at the City West Hotel on Monday morning.

“It has to be. Look at the teams Limerick have beaten. How hard it is to get out of Munster this year. To beat a Kilkenny team with Brian Cody at the helm.

“And then to beat the Munster champions. It adds to the whole thing. There is nothing worse than if you were to win an All-Ireland and go the easy route as such. To go down the route where there is only one way, and that’s forward, and to win it that way.”

Dowling admits that the Limerick team are conscious that history has been made following a 45 year wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup, but the Na Piarsaigh clubman wants to remain grounded.

“People can call me whatever they like, but the one thing I can say is I’ve a head on my shoulders,” Dowling adds.

Shane Dowling with the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Croke Park on Sunday.
Shane Dowling with the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Croke Park on Sunday.

“The Shane Dowling that was in this life last week, last month, last year, will be Shane Dowling next week, next month, next year. This is not going to change me. It’s something we spoke about after the game.

“I don’t want it to change anyone else’s life. It’s brilliant, it’s fantastic – we’re amateurs. What we’ve done is forever in the history books. And people in Limerick I’m sure will be forever indebted to us. But the show must go on. Hurling, fine. Life as well. I’d hate to think anyone will get carried away. Not in hurling, but in life. That is something we’ll all be trying to focus on.”

It is also why Dowling sensed that enjoyment was part and parcel of being a Limerick hurler this summer. “Yeah, and myself and Cian (Lynch) would be very similar,” Dowling remarks. “ I knew him before he came on the scene, and the one thing we said about the whole enjoyment side, and for a while it was gone, and we kept trying to bring it back in.

“Even small things, the odd occasion after training, the 99 van would pull into training at the Gaelic Grounds, and everyone is just chilling out on the field, having an ice cream. That would not have been heard of five or six years ago.”

Dowling fulfilled the role of impact substitute to perfection in the All Ireland series at Croke Park, but it was demanding not to start. “Absolutely, you'd have loved that, and all that goes with it,” Dowling accepts. “But I have to sit down and have a chat with myself.

''People know me long enough to know what Limerick means to me. You want to be doing everything that you can. Listen, it was what it was.

“I was only talking to John afterwards and, last November and December, Na Piarsaigh's success could have been a massive burden considering how many players were missing, it was probably the greatest blessing in disguise.

''Unfortunately, a lot of us got the wrong end of it because the team developed there, but it was what it was.” Limerick’s journey ended in glory.