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'I'd like to think there's more to come' - TJ has faith in Limerick's young guns

The Shannonsiders are preparing for their fifth consecutive season in the league’s second tier.

LIMERICK BEGIN ANOTHER campaign in the second tier of the Allianz Hurling League this weekend, but TJ Ryan says promotion is not vital.

The Limerick manager has also expressed his satisfaction at the contribution being made by the county’s crop of exciting youngsters.

TJ Ryan Limerick manager TJ Ryan at the launch of the 2015 Allianz Hurling League. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ryan’s side welcome Waterford to the Gaelic Grounds for Saturday night’s opener, and although promotion is the aim, the Limerick boss doesn’t believe that competing in the top-level of the league is essential for championship success.

Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Allianz Hurling League at Croke Park, the Garryspillane man pointed out that the two most recent winners of the Munster Championship — Cork last year and Limerick in 2013 — competed in Division 1B in the same season.

“I certainly wouldn’t see it [promotion] as imperative,” said Ryan. “It’s something that we would like to do, we want to do, we are certainly going to be trying to do, but I wouldn’t see it as the be-all and end-all.”

Nevertheless, after five years outside the top flight of the Allianz League, promotion will be expected on Shannonside — despite Limerick’s personnel problems.

Due to a combination of injuries, Fitzgibbon Cup commitments and Kilmallock’s progression to the All-Ireland Club final, Limerick’s number of absentees for the opening stages of the league could reach double figures.

Ryan said: “I’m sure the expectation would be like that. If you go back to last year we were in a similar enough situation with injuries. This year’s not majorly different. It’s going to be difficult, we keep telling people that.

“If you look at the games that we have…  starting at home to Waterford, it’s not going to be easy. We know that. The games are going to be tight. Even in the games that we played in January, they were tight enough as well, so I don’t think it’s going to be any different.”

But having so many regulars unavailable should open the door for others, including members of last year’s minor team that reached the All-Ireland final. Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey both showed up well in the county’s recent Waterford Crystal Cup triumph.

“In fairness to the minors over the last few years they’ve been pretty good,” Ryan said. “I’d like to think there’s more to come from those guys and there’s a few others doing exams and stuff. Certainly we’d try and mind them as best we can but we need all those guys.”

Cian Lynch leads his team out Much is expected in Limerick from former minor captain Cian Lynch. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

However, TJ Ryan is reluctant to throw Ronan Lynch, Colin Ryan and Barry Nash in at the deep end, with all three still in secondary school.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out, but to be fair to any guy doing his Leaving Cert, that’s enough pressure on its own, so until that’s out of the way you wouldn’t even contemplate it.”

One area Ryan is keen for Limerick to improve in this year is their ability to find the net. In their two championship defeats in 2014 — to Cork and Kilkenny — Limerick’s failure to score a goal ultimately cost them.

“We didn’t score a goal against Kilkenny and they got two at the right time,” said the Limerick boss. “I suppose when the opportunities come your way, it’s just having the ability to take them and grind out results.

“We just want to try and get back here [Croke Park] and do that, try and improve in those areas. There isn’t a lot between a lot of the teams. The ability to get results on a given day has been Kilkenny’s forte, and the ability to get goals. Goals win matches.”

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Paul Dollery

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