Limerick hurlers are on the ‘Drive for Five’

Photo: Sportsfile

John Kiely’s Limerick hurlers are on the edge of history.

The Limerick players of the current era are the greatest team to ever play hurling – but a fifth successive All-Ireland title would definitively secure that status. That’s according to TJ Ryan, John Kiely’s predecessor as manager, who would love to see the side achieve a historic five-in-a-row.

“For Limerick to potentially do it given their history, it just makes it all the rarer and more beautiful,” said Ryan, who played for the county between 1994 and 2006 and was manager between 2014 and 2016.

When he was heading the hurlers, one All-Ireland looked unlikely, never mind five back-to-back.

The Garryspillane man was asked whether he expected the team to be on the edge of such a feat.

“No, is the honest answer.

“I did not think we would be talking about Limerick in the context of a five-in-a-row. I was very much aware that the academy was kicking in and there was a very good team coming, a good group.

“If you were to ask me back then if I’d be happy to see Limerick win one All-Ireland, I would have been thrilled. To talk about it now is not something the most optimistic Limerick person living would have thought possible,” he said.

Tiredness is often a factor for teams who have been going for a long time but that does not seem to be the case with Limerick.

Every time opposition teams try to raise the bar, the Shannonsiders find an answer.

“To even think about Limerick doing five-in-a-row is something a lot of Limerick people wouldn’t have thought would be possible, but these boys have made it possible,” said Ryan.

“Their performance level day in day out is something that differentiates this Limerick team from past Limerick teams.”

A lot of comparisons have been made with Brian Cody’s four-in-a-row-winning Kilkenny side between 2006 and 2009.

Understandable given the success of the two teams.

“Both incredible teams, both had generational players. Both teams have players that would be talked about as the greatest ever to play the game,” Ryan said.

“Right now, with my Limerick glasses on, I would say Limerick are better because of some of the performances they’ve given in Croke Park.

“I suppose factually and statistically, if Limerick go and do the five-in-a-row, I think that would put the argument to bed.”

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