Peter Casey’s moment of madness will be the main talking point, but what shone through most was Limerick’s mental and physical strength as they qualified for a third All Ireland Final in four years.
The corner forward saw red after becoming involved in a tangle with Waterford’s Conor Gleeson, but, as was the case for the majority of the contest, Liam Cahill’s side were unable to take advantage of when things were going in their favour.
Right from the off, even after Kieran Bennet had exquisitely rifled over the game’s first score. Thereafter, numerous opportunities were squandered, and then Limerick did what all the great teams do, punished Na Deise’s profligacy by physically and by way of scores choking the life out of them.
My late father would often say that a given player was a “Great Croke Park performer”. Inference being that thej produced their best displays in the big old field. Meath’s Nigel Crawford and Stephen Bray being especial favourites.
Limerick’s Seamus Flanagan now belongs in the same category. It took this corner quite a while to figure what exactly he brought to the mix, but as this winning machine has evolved it has become more obvious
Simply as a player of the full forward’s ilk gave the option of either putting the ball in low in front of the player for them to take their own score or have them drop out the field, thus creating space inside for other crack shooters to do their thing.
Here Flanagan provided the best of both worlds. Essaying over some arrow-like scores whilst at the same time giving a re-invigorated Aaron Gillane the canvas with which to construct a masterpiece performance. But it wasn’t just the Patrickswell corner forward from whom blooming creativity flowed.
There’s a theory that when Cian Lynch plays well so do Limerick. Not only is it airtight, it is applicable to Gillane more than anybody else. The two are best friends as well as being club and county colleagues. As top notch double acts go, they’d give the Two Ronnies a run for their money.
Yesterday, mind you, it was as much about the best supporting actors. The incomparable Sean Finn, and others like Dan and Tom Morrissey, Diarmuid Byrnes and Darragh O’Donovan. Waterford battled bravely as they always do. Those who you expected to lead the resistance did so impeccably.
In the absense of Tadhg De Burca, Caelen Lyons has assumed control of the half back line, Jamie Barron has continued to work like a beaver in a dodgy dam and the great conundrum of how and where to get the best out of Austin Gleeson continues. He simply cannot be all things to all men but by God he tries. Time nor tide waits for nobody and you just hope they eventually get the day in the sun the so deserve.
Profligacy won’t cut it though when attempting to rage against the machine. One of the unique characteristics which define this Limerick side is their ability to amass huge points totals. In that, one old adage rings through while another is cast to the wind. They give lie to the thought that goals win games, but wholeheartedly endorsed the viewpoint that if you take your points the goals will follow themselves.
Consider that when Cork beat Kilkenny in the 1999 All Ireland SHC Final, the full time score was 0-13 to 0-12. Scoring rates have gone so insane in the modern game, the aforementioned tallies are quite likely to have been wracked up long before the short whistle. Limerick were trend setters with regard to same and most recently was no different when they had 0-15 chalked up before the Jaffa Cakes were handed out.
It’s a measure of the alacrity of this team and more significantly how they judge themselves that even after hitting 1-25 and winning an All Ireland semi final by 11 points that John Kiely’s immediate reaction was to point out they had plenty to work on before the final. Granted, he was most likely referred to the unusual amount of shots his team had sent astray, but I’d say most people would deem them to be in fairly good order!