Tom Condon: Champions Limerick can reach another level



Limerick’s 11-point All-Ireland final win completed a flawless 2020 season
Tom Condon: Champions Limerick can reach another level

THU, 04 FEB, 2021 – 06:00
Recently retired Limerick hurler Tom Condon believes the All-Ireland champions can go up another two gears from what they produced in December’s decider.

Limerick’s 11-point All-Ireland final win completed a flawless 2020 season for the Treatymen as John Kiely’s charges — victorious in each of their 13 outings — swept to Munster SHL, National League, Munster SHC, and Liam MacCarthy Cup success.

Condon, who announced his inter-county retirement last week, said the 0-30 to 0-19 final triumph was far from a perfect display and is confident this Limerick group can bring their performances to an even higher level in the seasons ahead.

“Everyone was saying the All-Ireland final was a complete performance, but when you analyse it, Limerick made a lot of unforced errors, be it giving away cheap scores, cheap frees, or giving the ball away at the wrong time.

“I personally think there is another gear or two in the Limerick team on from that All-Ireland final. If they keep going the way they are going, I can see them at the top table for a while yet,” remarked the Knockaderry clubman.

“The lads are just so level-headed and so well able to manage pressure. There is a massive bond, friendship, and cohesiveness between the panel, management, and backroom team. Everyone gets on with everyone and that’s a massive weapon to have, that everyone is pulling in the right direction and everyone has bought into everything we do.”

Having plied his trade at corner-back during his 12 seasons in the Limerick camp, the 33-year-old is well-placed to give an appraisal on the levels of cynicism that exist within the game at present and whether there is a pressing need to stamp out deliberate fouling close to goal.

Condon doesn’t see cynical fouling as a “massive issue” and is lukewarm on the proposal, to be debated at Congress, that will see a penalty awarded if a cynical foul committed in or outside the large rectangle denies a goal-scoring opportunity.

Under the proposal drawn up by the standing committee on playing rules, the offending player would also be sin-binned for 10 minutes.

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“It can be very frustrating when a forward is going through on goal and is hauled down, and then they are pulled back for a free which is giving them no advantage whatsoever. If the foul is within a certain zone, you’d be in favour of giving them a distinct advantage, be it a penalty or sin bin. It is not a case that every foul is cynical. I’d be very wary of changing the rules, but maybe some tweak has to be brought in because it can be frustrating [for the fouled player].”

Reflecting on his time in the green shirt, the famine-ending 2018 All-Ireland final win stands as the obvious high point. Introduced two minutes into second-half stoppage time, it was he, eight minutes later, who emerged from a thicket of bodies with possession in hand after Joe Canning’s effort at an equalising free dropped short.

“I thought my chance of coming on had gone because Richie McCarthy had been brought on 10 minutes before I came in. It is rare enough you have two substitutions in the full-back line in one game. The clock came up on 70 minutes so I said I’d sit down alongside the doc pitchside, see out the last few minutes here, and get onto the field for the celebrations. Then, all of a sudden, Galway bang a goal, Richie English is down injured, and John starts shouting for me to get onto the field.

“When Joe’s free was dropping, you are thinking, ‘you have to attack this and make sure it doesn’t go in behind’. It came off my hand initially and popped up in the air, but once I got it in the hand, it was head down and run out to the side.

“I can’t describe the emotion of that moment when the final whistle went. To have my son, Nicky, on the field afterwards was also very special and something we’ll always have.”

The year previous, Kiely’s first season in charge, Condon told a group of close friends Limerick would lift Liam MacCarthy within the next four to five years.

“In 2017, I knew there was something special there with the new players that were brought in, the younger players. Along with John, Paul [Kinnerk], and Joe [O’Connor], you could see something was going to happen. I didn’t think it would happen as quickly as 2018 but thankfully it did.”