Ahead of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final on Sunday, the Saturday Panel on Off The Ball discussed whether Limerick are reaching their full potential.
The Treaty County have ground out most of their victories in this year’s championship, which has led many to ask the question about their potential.
In particular, Limerick have struggled to score goals in their victories this year, which could play into Waterford’s favour in the final.
Former Kilkenny hurler Aidan ‘Taggy’ Fogarty, who was on the Saturday Panel, does not believe that scoring goals is as vital as it used to be.
“The game has changed in that perspective of trying to get goals,” Fogarty said. “Obviously, as they say, goals win matches and things.
“But I think Limerick have two game plans, and the full forward line was kind of taken out by Galway in the last game with their sweeper, so they fed it from the half forward line.
“Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch and Tom Morrisey, they were stepping up and taking long-ranged scores, because if they gave a supply into the full forward line, it was getting cleared.
“That is why the goals weren’t coming.”
Despite the lack of goals, Limerick have been unstoppable in this year’s championship, which Fogarty might give them the confidence heading into the final.
“I don’t think they have really been tested,” Fogarty said. “They haven’t been getting goals, but they have been grinding out results.
“Limerick have been really tough, and I think that is a great thing to be doing: not playing to the best of your ability, but still getting results.
“I think Limerick will need a goal or two, and Waterford will definitely need goals and I think it will be an open game and there will be a lot of goals.”
Former Waterford hurler Noel Connors, who joined Fogarty on the panel, agreed with Fogarty’s assessment of the Limerick performances.
“I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but Limerick have not been playing particularly well over the last couple of games,” Connors said.
“But they are still winning games, so is it a good thing to be going in and not performing to the best of your ability, or is it better from a Waterford perspective that is actually gradually getting better and better?
“Is it good to grind out games and still win or the opposite where you are building on performances and getting results?”
Not all of the panel agreed, though, that Limerick have not been performing well.
Former Limerick hurler Shane Dowling thinks that the opposition that Limerick have come up against have been of a high quality, meaning that winning those games actually proves they are playing better than they are given credit for.
“It has been said to me numerous times that Limerick are not playing great, and it could catch you in the All-Ireland final,” Dowling said.
“Limerick have wiped Clare, they wiped Tipperary, they played a very good Waterford team in the Munster final that they won, and they played Galway, who are an exceptional team, and they beat them.
“If you think back to 2018, when Limerick won the All-Ireland, we just about beat Kilkenny, we just about beat Cork, and we just about beat Galway.
“People are going on about this Limerick team as if they are god knows what. They are a very good, honest, hard-working team.
“I don’t know why people are saying that they are not playing good hurling. They are coming up against serious opposition, and they are winning the games.”
Limerick could be winning better
Fogarty acknowledged the fact that Limerick were doing well to grind out the tough victories, however suggested to Dowling that the Shannonsiders have too much talent to be happy with a close victory.
“They are probably not playing to their potential all the same,” Fogarty responded.
“There is so much talent in the team, and they have performed individually at different stages so brilliantly, that I think there is so much more in them collectively if they come together as a 15.”
Dowling, though, did not understand the higher expectation placed on the Limerick side.
“Do people expect them to win these games seven or eight points, and if they don’t do that then they are not playing well?” Dowling asked.
“I don’t get it. I think Limerick have been perfectly fine this year, they have been beating very, very good teams, and I think it is going to be something similar again on Sunday.”
Download the brand new OffTheBall App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!
Subscribe to OffTheBall's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.