While supporters of Limerick hurling are still coming to terms with events of the last few days, Tipperary’s Paddy Stapleton — Limerick’s opponents in the Munster championship on June 1 — warns it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
“These things happen in sport, you often see management coming in and out,” he said. “It can have a positive effect as much as anything. You see that with soccer teams a lot, they change the manager and get a big reaction.
“From our point of view, it changes nothing. They still have one half of the management team that was there, I’m sure there’s not going to be much of a change. In each of the last two years, we’ve met Limerick in the first round.
“They should have beat us the first year, they did beat us in 2013. We can’t afford to be any way complacent.”
Already Stapleton has been impressed by the reaction from inside the Limerick camp — or the non-reaction, to be more precise — with no player breaking ranks and going to the media.
“Yeah, I like that, I think it’s really important. When Steven Gerrard was asked what was said in the dressing room, that was a great answer — it’s none of your business. It’s nobody else’s business, really. Why should people know what’s happening in a dressing room, good or bad?
“They’re not the ones training. They’re not the ones giving up their time. I think they are dead right. Their league wasn’t going fantastically for them, maybe a shock like this is what they need to get things going again. The championship is where it’s at.”
The championship is Stapleton’s own target also. Though speaking in Croke Park yesterday in advance of Sunday week’s Allianz Hurling League final against Kilkenny, the Borrisoleigh defender reckons he probably won’t make that game, with an injury to his left wrist.
“I fractured it in the warm-up against Kilkenny early in the league, one of my own lads hit me but no-one is putting their hand up!
“It was sore for a few weeks, I mentioned it to the physio and we went for a scan; there was a chip on the bone but this week has seen a massive improvement, after I rested it. That’s all it needed. Hopefully now I’ll be back next week but the league final is probably coming too soon.”
Also in Croke Park was Kilkenny’s Eoin Larkin, who was also nursing a wrist injury and also doubtful for Sunday week.
“I hurt my wrist in a club match [v Danesfort] so I have to have a scan. I haven’t a clue about playing [the final], I have to see the specialist tomorrow.”
Also common to both players, the worry of making the championship team, time running out to make an impression.
“That’s what you’re thinking and that’s what everyone should be thinking, if they’re not getting their game,” said Stapleton. “Even if they are playing, they should be thinking like that, that I have to stay performing at a high level or I’ll be replaced. That’s what you want, a good panel, if you don’t have that, you’re eventually going to have people resting on their laurels, bar really driven characters. I see the likes of Conor O’Brien, Cathal Barrett, Thomas Stapleton, James Barry all fantastic hurlers, would be starting on many inter-county teams. I don’t take my place for granted, I want to get back as soon as possible.”
Larkin agrees: “It certainly is worrying but it’s good to have competition for places, it can only bring the best out of older players so this is exactly why it’s not a great time to be injured.”
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