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Limerick are the biggest threat to their All-Ireland defence - former All-Star O'Shaughnessy

The Shannonsiders are looking to retain the Liam MacCarthy after making an an impressive start to the league.

LIMERICK HURLING LEGEND Andrew O’Shaughnessy believes that the Shannonsiders are the biggest threat to their All-Ireland defence in 2019.

Andrew O'Shaughnessy Andrew O'Shaughnessy won an All-Star for Limerick in 2007. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

John Kiely’s charges have made a blistering start to the Allianz Hurling league and are at the summit of Division 1A after impressive wins over Wexford and Tipperary in the first two rounds.

O’Shaughnessy concedes that it remains to be seen if the reigning All-Ireland champions have started the season with too much firepower, but he’s pleased with their application so far as they prepare to face Kilkenny this weekend.

“They’re All-Ireland champions,” O’Shaghnessy said at the launch of the new Laochra Gael series which will feature an episode about the 2007 All-Star forward.

“They deserve to be where they are.

They’ve made the most impressive start in the league. It’s a long year yet, you’d be stupid to think they’d be miles ahead because last year’s championship, anyone could have won from the last six (teams).

“Liam Sheedy said after they beat Tipperary that they’re obviously that bit more advanced in their physical preparation but I find it hard to see how they could be that bit more advanced because they were on three holidays between the All-Stars, Boston and then their own holiday so I think every team is starting the same, fitness wise.

They’re getting a good start. Are they going too early? I’m not too sure but again, as young fellas you go out to win every match whether that’s league or championship, it all goes well if you’re successful.”

Galway threatened Limerick’s All-Ireland fairytale win after they gave them a late scare in Croke Park last year, while an incredible Nickie Quaid save rescued them from defeat to Cork in a gripping All-Ireland semi-final.

Nickie Quaid blocks a shot from Seamus Harnedy Quaid's superb flick-save to keep out Seamus Harnedy's shot in the 2018 All-Ireland semi-final. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

They also played out a draw against the Rebels in their Munster Round-Robin clash, but O’Shaughnessy had one just one word when asked who he thinks is the biggest threat to their All-Ireland defence.

“Limerick,” he replied before expanding on his view.

“If you don’t perform to your own ability, to the best of your ability… You think you’ve arrived at a destination where you think you’re fantastic but if you don’t develop, improve, you’re always going to be the biggest factor.

“You’re told from U14 up that the only team that’s going to beat ye is yourselves and invariably, it is. While it’s a cliche, it’s probably true.”

After booking their spot in last year’s All-Ireland decider, star substitute Shane Dowling gave an impassioned interview in which he said ‘I really hope we’re not just going to get to the final to march behind the band, I want Limerick to go all the way.’

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Shane Dowling celebrates scoring his sides third goal Shane Dowling celebrating a goal in the All-Ireland final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Shaughnessy, who was on the Limerick side that lost the 2007 All-Ireland final, says there was plenty of truth in Dowling’s words.

“I remember in the warm-up (before the ’07 final),” he recalls, “and in a certain part of the drill, one of the lads turned around to me and I was saying, ‘come on, do what you’re supposed to do.’

And he said to me, ‘here I don’t know what’s going on,’ and he was going out and playing.

“Obviously you get caught up in the emotion of the day. They did as well to a certain extent but at the same time, they were focused and they had a better bit of structure to it in their organisation prior to it.”

O’Shaughnessy wasn’t surprised to see Limerick end their 45-year wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup last August.

The Kilmallock clubman even sent a text message to a friend from home promising that ‘Limerick would either win the All-Ireland or the Super Bowl.’

And as they prepare to for the trip to Nowlan Park on Sunday, he says Limerick look suitably confident to face the remaining challenges that await them this season.

“There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance and I definitely think they’re on the right side of confident this year. 

“I would think that their attitude is that they’re not going up to play Kilkenny, they’re just going out to play another match. If you focus too much on the team you’re playing, you’ve already lost.”

The new series of Laochra Gael begins on 20 February on TG4 at 9.30pm. The series features six Laochra with genuine star quality and reveals deeper, fresh and sometimes unexpected insights into the lives of these icons.

Episode one will focus on Kilkenny legend Jackie Tyrrell.

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