Diarmuid Byrnes wants Limerick to deliver:
By Cian O’Connell
Diarmuid Byrnes acknowledges that the time has arrived for Limerick to deliver at senior level again.
Encouraging signs have been available for Limerick with two All Ireland Under 21 titles secured in the past three years, while LIT, UL, and Mary I remain serious Fitzgibbon Cup contenders.
Ardscoil Ris’ have won claimed five Harty Cup titles since 2010 so seriously talented performers are being produced.
Byrnes, who captained Limerick to All Ireland Under 21 glory in 2015, wants John Kiely’s charges are ready to compete at the highest level now.
“We have two All Ireland Under 21s in the last three years, but it is time to turn that form into senior,” the sweet striking Byrnes says.
“A lot of lads like myself, Cian Lynch, Richie English we are all senior hurlers now, it is not time to be dwelling on the past. It is time to translate that into senior hurling, to try to win something
A feel good factor currently exists in Limerick according to Byrnes. “You have very strong hurling colleges. LIT are always there or thereabouts, UL year in, year out always have strength in depth,” Byrnes admits.
“They have such a pick with it being a massive college and Mary I the last two years won the Fitzgibbon. It is all adding to Limerick hurling which is great. Ardscoil Ris are on the back of a Harty Cup win, that is adding to Limerick hurling and it is something to be excited about.”
Definitely there is a bit of an expectation and a bit of a buzz.
That this generation of Limerick players are accustomed to success is also a positive factor according to Byrnes. “It is important, you have to experience these things, but we have experienced losses too,” Byrnes states.
“We know the hurt that can be there and we need to transfer that into winning. The lads winning the Fitzgibbon with UL are going to come back into our panel with confidence, winning a fantastic tournament, it is an All Ireland medal.
“It is important to be winning these things because it becomes a collective then because winning with your college or club helps you transfer it into county then trying to win Munster or All Ireland titles.”
Byrnes is adamant that Limerick have generated some momentum ahead of what promises to be an interesting Allianz Hurling League Division 1B encounter against Galway at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.
“Definitely there is a bit of an expectation and a bit of a buzz,” Byrnes accepts. “That comes from winning games, if we were out there barely scraping over the line there would be no following.
“You want to be winning games creating that buzz and I think we are. We are in a position that we wanted to be in when we started out a couple of months back. We are in that position now, we are here, we have given ourselves an opportunity to get promotion and hopefully it will go our way.
“Generating momentum, getting confidence in the team, our fans are super like that. When we do build that momentum, get the crowd behind us Limerick hurling is fantastic. There is tradition and if we get the crowd behind us and plenty of people following us you can keep winning games and you would never know what could happen.”
John Kiely steered Limerick to Under 21 glory three years ago, while Byrnes highlights his involvement as a selector when the Treaty seniors were perched on the Munster summit in 2013.
“He was there in 2013 as a selector when they won the Munster Championship so he would have a great relationship with the likes of Paul Browne, Declan Hannon, Nickie Quaid, the lads that were there in 2013,” Byrne remarks.
“With us at Under 21 level he was with Richie English, Cian Lynch, Barry O’Connell, and myself in 2015. There is a relationship, he built that bond in 2013 with them lads when they won.
“You do build bonds and relationships when you are winning matches and titles. That is fantastic, there is a great relationship between management and players.”
The next assignment carries significance in Salthill.