herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Spring ends on a low tide for the blues

Limerick manager TJ Ryan blasts 'hidden agendas' after big win

Dublin’s Daire Plunkett under pressure from Limerick’s Paul Browne. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Daire Plunkett under pressure from Limerick’s Paul Browne. Photo: Sportsfile

So that's that. Dublin fade from view until summer, their spring cut short somewhat surprisingly on a Saturday night of bathos in Parnell Park.

That five-year unbeaten run there is gone.

The league, having promised plenty in that three week spin of successive victories, ends a round earlier than it did last year.

Whatever progress Dublin have made this year in the context of their make-up and style hasn't been reflected in longevity.

"Hard to put our finger on it," was Ger Cunningham's frustrated assessment of a loss to Limerick that had more certainty about it than the final score insinuated.

"We didn't fire tonight for some reason."

They could have won.

We had one of those 'swing' moments in the game that in this case, swayed violently against Dublin.

It came in the 54th minute when Richie McCarthy's intimate marking of Eamonn Dillon was deemed by Brian Gavin to have erred into a foul inside the Limerick area.

David Treacy's penalty was saved by Nickie Quaid.

Structure

Limerick, then a point up, went and carved a goal for themselves off an error from Eoghan O'Donnell, scored by Kevin Downes and so from potentially being two points up, Dublin were four down.

"In that situation, you get the goal and it puts us ahead for the first time in the match," Cunningham pointed out.

"The turning point in the game, I suppose. If we had gotten that, it might have been different."

It wouldn't have changed the trend of the game, however.Limerick had their homework done and it showed.

Their game-plan involved allowing Conor Dooley take a short puck-out to Cian O'Callaghan (which he did, almost every time) and then ghosting the young Dublin full-back until he, O'Donnell or Oisín Gough were ready to release the ball.

Limerick scored 1-3 from direct turn-overs in this area.

They marked Dublin's runners in midfield, offering only shafts of light down either flank in front of Dillon or Fiontán McGibb.

Parnell Park being the tight pitch it is, Ronan Lynch - Limerick's sweeper - was able to cover both wings and he gleefully plucked ball out of the sky all evening long.

And even the times he was bypassed, Dublin's forwards ritually found themselves battling two or sometimes three Limerick players for possession.

Niall McMorrow scored four points for Dublin but he was criminally underused.

Sweeper

Darragh O'Connell - and later, Daire Plunkett - have rocket fuel in their engines but similarly, they were bystanders by consequence of Limerick's marking and Dublin's short puck-out/long-delivery routine.

"Maybe it's something that we need to work on going forward - how to play (against) the sweeper system," Cunningham acknowledged.

"The record is a couple of matches over a couple of years," he added, making light of the end of that unbeaten run for the senior hurlers in Parnell Park.

"We pride ourselves on people coming here knowing they're going to get a good game. Fair play to Limerick tonight. They were the better overall."

For Limerick, the night held huge reparation.

Doomed, seemingly, to a lifetime of league hurling in Division 1B, they're in a semi-final now and with their Na Piarsaigh players back, it's not quite so gloomy on Shannonside any more.

"If you come down to Limerick and see some of the vultures we have down there and read what's being said," revealed TJ Ryan, shaking his head.

"There's hidden agendas all over the place.

"There's hidden agendas against this squad, against some of the backroom team. From a Limerick point of view, I'd like to thank the supporters who came here tonight.

"We go from one extreme to the other.

"We go from talking about All-Irelands to talking about sacking managers.

"Lets get real. We're in a league semi-final, let's get real. Let's talk about winning the league.

"There's hidden agendas all over the place in Limerick unfortunately," he added.

"It's been part and parcel of my reign.

"It's frustrating."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News