By Cian O’Connell
On January 6 when the Limerick Under 21 panel assembled for the first time at UL, manager Pat Donnelly sensed a glorious adventure was about to commence.
Donnelly wasn’t wrong as Limerick accumulated Munster and All Ireland glory. As thousands of green and white supporters remained on the Semple Stadium field Donnelly spoke about how this talented Limerick group coped with the heavy burden of expectation.
“It hasn’t come easy and we said that on Thursday night, this was the one to win, doing something that was never done before by beating Kilkenny in an Under 21 Final and the teams that went before were all top hurling counties,” Donnelly remarked.
“The favourites tag was with us all year, but it didn’t interfere with the performances. It gave the lads confidence, the belief that they could win this All Ireland.”
Inspired by the industrious Robbie Hanley, Limerick proved too strong for Kilkenny in Thurles with Donnelly acknowledging his dynamic display.
“I thought he was man of the match throughout the whole game, I thought he was immense,” Donnelly commented.
“I think Aaron (Gillane) got man of the match, but he would be the first to put up his hand to say Robbie Hanley because Robbie Hanley was outstanding. I don’t like singling out because this is a 36 man panel for the last number of months.”
Now Donnelly wants this crop of exciting players to deliver at the highest level for Limerick in the coming years. “It is great for the lads, hopefully they will keep their feet on the ground, keep their heads right because they can go on to perform for Limerick seniors in the future.”