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25th Mar 2024

“They’re still not above analysis” – Donal Óg raises question marks about Limerick

Niall McIntyre

Donal Óg Cusack has a few ‘question marks’ over Limerick’s form but still feels that they’re in a good place heading into the Championship.

Kilkenny comprehensively defeated the Treaty in Saturday’s Allianz National Hurling League semi-final in what was a rare off-colour display by John Kiely’s side, who hit 14 wides and were repeatedly turned over by their opponents.

Óg Cusack has pointed to the loss of long-time team psychologist Caroline Currid as a blow to Limerick, and has questioned the form of Declan Hannon and Sean Finn as he picked the bones out of their defeat.

The defensive duo have been pillars of consistency in Limerick’s dominance of the hurling landscape over the last few years but picked up long-term knee injuries last year.

Limerick were forced to cope without the duo in last year’s All-Ireland final but Óg Cusack feels that ring-rustiness was evident in the duo in the League campaign just gone. Finn, it should be pointed out, only made his first start in ten months at the weekend while Hannon also played against Galway in the last round.

“Limerick showed a surprising uncertainty and a surprising vulnerability in defence,” said the former Cork goalkeeper.

” I counted it last night, Kilkenny had seven legitimate goal chances.

“There was very few positives. Cathal O’Neill, like we said, was outstanding,” he added.

“Peter Casey was good but ruined it by that sending off. And he deserved to get sent off.

8 July 2023; Injured Limerick players Sean Finn, left, and Declan Hannon sit in the substitutes bench before the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Limerick and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

“I would question Eoin Cody’s sending off, I think he got a warning instead of that second yellow card.

“Even though Limerick are going for six-in-a-row in Munster and five All-Irelands, they’re still not above analysis,” he added.

“And I wonder, there’s no Caroline Currid there.”

“I wonder about Declan Hannon’s form. I wonder how long it’s going to take Sean Finn to come back to form, because he wasn’t at his best yesterday.

“So whilst there’s no doubt that they’re still the best team and the team to beat.

“There are a couple of question marks after yesterday…In a way though, I think it’s perfect for John Kiely now, for the next couple of weeks,” added the Cork man.

That John Kiely now has a stick to beat Limerick with, so to speak, is a sentiment that fellow Sunday Game analyst Liam Sheedy agrees with Óg Cusack on.

“15 wides yesterday. Their conversion rate was very poor.

“In the 17th minute of the first half, chaos ensued when Declan Hannon dropped a ball in front of the goals.

“They got it back then, and normally Limerick would work it from 21 to the far 21 before we know it. But there were bad passes from Hannon and O’Donoghue and a bad touch from Diarmaid Byrnes.

“I thought it was very interesting then after that score by Adrian Mullen. The Kilkenny players were on, running back out the field straight after, ready to go. Watch the body language of the Limerick players. I thought they were very lethargic,” he said.

“They lacked energy yesterday. They now have four weeks to prepare for championship. So that’s perfect for them. They’re still the team to beat and I can’t wait for themselves and Clare to go to battle on April 21.”

Óg Cusack, meanwhile, hailed Kilkenny for their consistency and their hunger.

“You have to be always impressed…Kilkenny are often brilliant, but they are always up for the battle.

“And I think that was typified yesterday by how they were able to take Cian Lynch out of the game…Lyng can be very satisfied with his troops.”

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