Limerick manager John Brudair is expecting a battle to the last on Saturday night — who knows there could even be a few dramatic turns and twists at the death, which is something that the Brudair family from Dromcollogher know all about. Joe Ó Muircheartaigh reports.
Same again lads
JOHN Brudair tells a great story about the unpredictability of championship and how games can turn with a flash of the ash or a kick of the leather — it’s a back story of some renown in the Bruadar household and in the year that’s in it one that worth recalling.
Sixty years ago and his father Dónal Broderick was corner-back on the Limerick hurling team that beat Clare in the infamous Munster final of 1955.
A flash in the pan many of those of a saffron and blue hue said; a freak said others cowering in the Banner County corner, but this was whitewashing the fact that when it came to the following year’s Munster final it was Limerick and not Clare who were back on the big day.
And, they were cruising to back-to-back Munster titles for the first time in 20 years….until the glorious unpredictability of championship came hurling home.
“Christy Ring,” says Brudair. “My father would be well known for the ’56 final when he was marking Christy Ring — Ring got three goals in the last ten minutes.
“The story has grown legs over the years — Ring moved out the field and he was told to stay put because they were up so much. The fact that he stayed put Ring got on some handy ball and….the rest is history. I’d say his biggest regret is not following him out that day.”
The story shows – its one of the greatest examples in GAA history, of what can happen going down the home strait of a championship game.
And it’s that same home strait that Brudair is looking to, because he fully expecting Saturday’s showdown in Cusack Park to be in melting pot all the way down to the final minutes. “What will win it could be a stroke of luck,” he says.
“You never know what could happen. It could be a referee’s decision. It could be anything. We can just prepare as best we can and if we end up with the point win that will be grand, but it’s very hard to judge what way it will go.
“It goes without saying that both sides will be well revved up for the first round and both will see it as an opportunity to progress, so it’s down to attitude on the day and performance on the day will see one of the teams through.”
Limerick’s credentials have soared on the back of some hugely positive performances at National League and Under 21 level. The two wins that closed out what had been a mediocre league campaign and the strong showing against Cork in the Under 21 championship.
“We had to win the last two games to stay up,” he says, “and prior to that we’d been playing ok but didn’t have our scoring boots on. Some key forwards came back at a good time for us and that helped gel everything together that we were trying to do in the league.
“It was a good win for us (against Clare), but I don’t think it will have a massive bearing on the next day. It’s about whoever gets their homework done right and performs the better will win. It’s not what about happened the last day.
“The second half was a good performance — there’s no getting over that. They worked very hard and they were very honest. That’s all you can ever ask from a bunch and sometimes you get the rewards and more times you don’t. That day we did and it was great.
“I was saying to the lads all year that Division 3 was the right place for us to be, considering that we’re totally changing the team in terms of personnel, bringing through a lot of young players. To be honest it would have been a disaster if we’d gone down to Division 4.
“It’s the quality of games you’d be getting in Division 3 when you’d be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Armagh and Roscommon over the last couple of years helps bring on younger players far quicker.
“You have to balance between giving youth its chance and by the same token having enough experience on the team to get you through tricky situations. We put a big emphasis this year on the Under 21 team, just to bring through a new crop of players. We nearly got our rewards with a great display against Cork, but at least the benefits are showing now for the senior team when we have about eight Under 21s on the championship 26 the next day,” he adds.
It means that Brudair has overseen a radical change to the Limerick set-up in just over a year in charge of the team, having come to the post on the back of great success with his club Dromcollogher-Broadford, guiding them to county championships in 2008 and ’09 as well as the landmark Munster Club final win over Kilmurry Ibrickane in 2008.
“You’d always hope that you’d get considered for the position,” he says, “and when I was asked, it was actually the players that asked me would I be interested. I was delighted. There needed to be a change in that there was an established team for a long number of years and we needed to bring in a lot of fresh faces over the past two years. It was probably better off that a new management team took on that role and were patient enough to try and do it. So far it has worked out ok but the proof of the pudding will be on Saturday.”
When the glorious unpredictability of championship could come home once more.