William O’Donoghue: Limerick are “as hungry as ever” for Success

With roles reversed from the 2018 All-Ireland final clash with Galway, Limerick come into Sunday’s last four meeting with the Tribesmen as hot favourites.

In the last meeting in Croke Park, John Kiely’s youthful side upset the odds but are firmly the ones with the target on their back this weekend against Shane O’Neill’s Galway.

Ahead of the game, William O’Donoghue brushed aside Limerick’s favourite tags outlining just how competitive the competition is.

“We have one All-Ireland medal in Limerick in the last 46 years, so I don’t think you can take anything for granted. We are certainly as hungry for any accolade as we ever were.

“There’s eight or nine teams that could win the championship on any given day. You saw the football last weekend, on any given day, anyone could win an All-Ireland. I don’t think favourite tags stand for anything at the minute.”

Allianz Hurling League, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 2/2/2020 Limerick vs Galway Limerick’s William O’Donoghue and Adrian Touhy of Galway Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Limerick will be returning to the last four of the All-Ireland Championship for the first time since their loss to Kilkenny at the same stage last August.

On that day, Limerick were overrun by the Cats’ manic workrate that saw them take an early lead they wouldn’t surrender.

For O’Donoghue, that loss will not cross their minds on Sunday but has played a huge part in the preparation for 2020 as a whole.

“I accept that narrative. They deserved to win the game. Their workrate was incredible. They went 1-8 to 0-3 up, that doesn’t happen by mistake. We probably were still doing everything we could but the level with which they were working and tackling resulted in 1-8 to 0-3.

“Does it have an impact, it certainly does. It doesn’t have an impact on Sunday but when we went back training at the start of the year, you realise, ‘this is where we fell down’ and every one knows to perform at that level, you need to train at that level. We can only prepare as best as possible. You cannot guarantee that you’ll be able to deliver intensity like that but you can certainly prepare for it. That won’t be hurting us this week or be on our mind but it would have been the basis on how we prepared and trained over the last few months.”

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 27/7/2019 Limerick vs Kilkenny Limerick’s William O’Donoghue Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

A fortnight ago, Limerick secured a second consecutive Munster Hurling title with John Kiely’s side becoming increasingly accustomed to intercounty accomplishments.

However, the win over the Deise was met with somewhat muted celebrations with no fans permitted at Thurles and a number of the squad not allowed to attend the game.

Nonetheless, O’Donoghue has said that the title means as much as it ever did to the squad despite the unusual post-match scenes or lack of.

“I think it means the exact same. Obviously the scenes we saw in the Gaelic Grounds last year were fantastic and they live with you forever. It’s great to see what it means to supporters and get to be with the people around you. But that’s just not the case this year and you don’t get to see that. But I think it means the same to all the people that ran on to the field last year. All the people are there but just in their living rooms.

“It doesn’t lessen the achievement, it doesn’t diminish it. Obviously you don’t have the jubilation, but it certainly means as much. It’s hard to look happy when you’re told to keep two metres apart and wear a mask. But it obviously means an awful lot to win a Munster title for Limerick and to win another one was huge.”

Limerick play Galway this Sunday at 4m in Croke Park in the 2020 All-Ireland Hurling semi-final.