LIMERICK DEFENDER GAVIN O’MAHONY insists his team’s only goal ahead of championship summer was to defeat Tipperary. Now that that has been achieved, in thrilling fashion at Semple Stadium, thoughts of retaining the Munster hurling crown has come into focus.
O’Mahony and his Limerick teammates rallied in the closing minutes to turn a three-point deficit into a two-point win. He was ‘very aware’ that no Limerick team had beaten the Premier County at Semple for 41 years.
O’Mahony, “We’d no other goal at the start of the year other than Tipperary in the semi-final. When you put as much pressure as that on yourself going into a match, it’s unbelievable when it comes off. It’s hard to fathom really.
“Already we’ve to start looking forward now. To beat Tipp in a Munster semi-final and not win another match wouldn’t be good enough at all.”
There was no shortage of motivation for Limerick to prove their credentials against Tipp for the second year running, he declared.
Any paper you’d pick up, any person you’d meet on the street, it was an easy Tipp win. We didn’t want for motivation. You just have to buy in to your own camp, listen to your own camp and have a small bit of belief.
“What we took from last year was huge. After the semi-final against Clare, we just felt that we came up short. We went from being very close to it to being well down the pecking order again. We didn’t quite buy into that.”
O’Mahony paid tribute to Mark Lyons, Limerick’s conditioning coach, for the Herculean effort his colleagues expended in the final quarter of a hard-fought game. “ He had it drilled in to us that we’d worked so hard throughout the year that there was no team going to find us wanting in the last 10 minutes. To be fair to him, he has proved that again.”
The 26-year-old dismissed notions of a team in transition and argued that ‘this group of lads, their not young fellas’. “You only get a year or two to try to win when you come in. There’s a fierce hungry bunch of lads. They work unbelievably hard. You don’t do that year in year out just to compete. You want to win a medal. Now we’ve a chance to do that again.”
O’Mahony declared, “We’ve been looking back for 40 years and it’s time to put a bit of belief in this group. Keep our feet on the ground, keep our focus and the sky’s the limit.”
– Additional reporting by Fintan O’Toole