Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Diamaid Kelly and Iain Corbett celebrate Newcastle West's victory over Clonmel Commercials two weeks ago.
On the up
Newcastle West eyeing Munster glory as they surf Limerick football's rising tide
Newcastle West face Kerins O’Rahillys in Saturday’s Munster final.

LIMERICK FOOTBALL IS riding the crest of a wave at present.

Despite Kerry’s blow-out Munster final victory last summer, there is no doubting that the big ball in the Treaty County is on an upward trajectory. Ray Dempsey succeeds Billy Lee, with the county’s senior side preparing for life in Division 2 in the springtime.

And it is not just at inter-county level.

Newcastle West’s shock victory over Clonmel Commercials in extra-time means that a Limerick club will contest the provincial senior final for the first time since 2008.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

“They are two completely different teams really but I suppose there is some correlation,” comments county star Iain Corbett.

“The last time a Limerick club would have been there would have been 2008 when Drom (Dromcollogher-Broadford) won it and that would have been a highly competitive Limerick team competing for Munster Championships back then so it probably does I suppose.

“With inter-county level, if players are competing at a higher level and competing against the Corks, Kerrys in Munster, that is going back to the club and the inter-county players are then driving those standards at club level.”

iain-corbett-and-stephen-obrien Ken Sutton / INPHO Former All Stars nominee Corbett is enjoying a successful run with both club and county. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

“The club championship, you can see there is a big improvement in it so you are raising the bar in it all the time, and I suppose that is a direct correlation in that sense because the standard within the club championship is improving,” adds Newcastle West manager Jimmy Lee.

“If you had to look at the [Limerick SFC] semi-finalists, any one of the four could have won it. There was only a kick of the ball in each of the games and that competitiveness is there that obviously drives us to succeed, drives us up to a higher level so I suppose there is in that sense.

“It probably gives the new manager Ray Dempsey a thought process as to who he wants to look at and who he does but it should lift all standards. That is what we would be hoping for anyway. The boys bringing back stuff from the Limerick set-up helps as well.

“They bring back methods and ways of doing things; nutrition, S&C work, all that stuff. You’d be having that conversation when you are training, lads would be learning from each other.”

jimmy-lee-during-the-game Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Jimmy Lee is hoping to guide the club to a first ever Munster title on Saturday. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Facing off against Kerry opposition naturally brings back memories of May’s Munster final defeat to the Kingdom.

“We were just beaten by a better team,” Corbett reflects on the Killarney drubbing.

“We couldn’t come into the dressing-room and say we were unlucky. Going into the off season, it shows us that we still have massive strides to make if we want to keep competing at that level. We just took it on the chin. It was a tough day out. You take the learnings from it and move on.”

But he is adamant that it will have little bearing when Newcastle West take to the field against Kerins O’Rahillys:

“Kerry are a seasoned Division 1 team. We are coming from Division 3, just reaching Division 2, so there is a gulf between the two teams. Whereas if you look at this weekend, it is two senior teams that are after winning their respective senior club championship. It probably is more of a level playing field.” 

And although they enter as underdogs, the Limerick side will relish the opportunity at hand to win their first ever Munster crown.

“There will always be confidence there. If you don’t believe in yourself you are at nothing in this game,” Lee states.

“We do believe in ourselves but we are also realistic in the sense that we are facing the Kerry champions. If we don’t go there with confidence we are at nothing, we would probably just stand back and admire them.

“We are going there with a plan in our heads, with confidence in the boys and it is about putting that belief into action really. We are extremely happy with where we are at in this moment in time. Is that good enough? We will know Saturday evening but it will take a lot to beat the Kerry champions.

“We are under no illusions about that. We will go in as massive underdogs and that is just being realistic about where it is at.”

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