OVER A DECADE serving as a player and a couple of seasons into his current role as a selector, provided Brian Geary with a perfect insight into those responsible for helping Limerick reach the hurling summit last Sunday.
All the figures in the dressing-room in Croke Park shared in the moment of All-Ireland glory after a 45-year wait.
But it was the reaction of the Limerick players when they met JP McManus, the long-time sponsor and supporter of the county’s hurling teams under the Sporting Limerick branding, that struck Geary most.
J P McManus with his hands on Liam pic.twitter.com/8hH8K69n07
— Matt O'Callaghan (@MattOCall) August 19, 2018
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The moment JP McManus lofted the Liam MacCarthy Cup high in a rapturous Limerick hurling dressing room in Croke Park #GAA #LLSport #hurling #Limerick pic.twitter.com/BeQaod8BqP
— Jerome O'Connell (@JeromeSport) August 20, 2018
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“He’s a powerful man in everything he does. The lads there, 19, 20, 21-year-olds had never met the man (but) the respect they gave him straight away.
“Sure they know his history and what he’s done for the GAA and what he’s been trying to do. He doesn’t throw money at the thing willy-nilly but there’s something there and it’s very much appreciated what himself and Noreen do.”
Alongside Séamus Hickey, Geary was able to contrast the post-match emotions with the Limerick’s previous final appearance in 2007, when he was centre-back on a team soundly beaten by Kilkenny.
Brian Geary in action in the 2007 All-Ireland senior hurling final against Kilkenny.
Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO
“I remember going in there (to the players’ lounge) in 2007, a totally different feeling. I saw the Kilkenny boys all content, sitting down, meeting their families.
“We were over in the corner trying to get a bite to eat into us as quick as possible, just get out of there. (On Sunday) we didn’t want to leave.
“Come here don’t get me wrong, the minute I got out onto the pitch, I wished I was playing but it’s brilliant to be involved. All the emotions after, I had my little cry, ah it was brilliant.
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“They’re a good bunch. John keeps them well grounded. Everything went for us this year, injury wise we were very lucky and I think Galway were probably the same last year. You need everything going your way and we got it this year.
“We thoroughly deserved it alright on the balance of play but nervous enough when they got back to a point.
“I think we were better than them alright and you need to be a good bit better maybe to win your first. It doesn’t come that easy. We’ll take it and we’ll enjoy it.”
Brian Geary (second left, back) celebrates Limerick’s All-Ireland hurling title win.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
If the current team is populated by young players who are blazing a trail and enjoying success, Geary could appreciate the struggle endured by so many Limerick hurlers to reach this point.
After that wave of setbacks, he’ll seek to savour this triumph.
“It’s well documented all the so near episodes. I suppose that makes it a small bit sweeter.
“There’s plenty good teams went before. Serious, serious hurlers have no medals. I know they’re saying this bunch has a different mindset but there’s a huge amount of seriously talented hurlers went before them and unfortunately got no medal.
“Mícheál Donoghue spoke well in the dressing room, they’re going to be back fighting next year.
“He did say you need to enjoy it and you need to give the supporters a bit back, which is totally right after 45 years. The whole county has embraced this thing so we all need to celebrate it.”
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