Limerick manager John Allen says he is determined that his side will be prepared for the battle with Clare in Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Allen spoke of the positive signs he is seeing as Limerick prepare for this weekend’s crucial clash.
Allen said: “I see the quality of training and quality of off the field training - the gym work and their attention to hydrating properly and eating properly. And all of those things add up.
Limerick secured their place in the final four with a thrilling 0-24 to 0-15 win over Cork in the Munster final – but Allen says his side have remained focused since.
“Muhammed Ali had a famous quote about winning the game away from the lights. On the road and in the gym is where the games are won," said Allen.
"On the road and in the gym is where the games are won" - John Allen
“The preparation has to be done. You cannot just turn up. You cannot just turn it on, on the day. And I saw all of those boxes being ticked and I was very sure that we were not going to be far short.”
While this young Limerick team have surprised many in the Championship this year - despite remaining in Division 1B - Allen feels he is dealing with a mature side and one that that is full of leadership.
“I’ve been involved at this level before. Over a number of years you get to know what’s what. You get to recognise what qualities players have – bit by bit we have developed a system where we have a lot of leaders on the field.”
One thing that is certain is that Cork await the winners in the final – and Limerick’s Cork-born manager already has experience of the conflicting emotions of facing his native county in a major final. Allen admits it was an unusual feeling to defeat the team he loves in the Munster decider, but says he had prepared himself for it.
The Treaty County boss added: “Yeah I suppose that was strange alright. My friends Ger Cunningham and John Crowley and Jimmy Barry Murphy had been appointed as Cork management and I knew that at some stage I might have to go down to their dressing room and say ‘well done lads’ or ‘tough luck lads’.
“And in the Munster final? Sure I had mixed feelings about it of course – but I’m committed to Limerick and I’m so delighted that things have worked out”
Those mixed feelings may return again, but Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare side will have other ideas and Allen feels they are a team that is well placed to dominate hurling in the years to come.
“As far as I know, the bookmakers – now I’m not a gambler at all – are finding it very hard to put any bit of light between the teams.
“If you were picking out the team that were going to influence hurling over the next couple of years you would have to put Clare up there in the first one or two. Their Under-21 team have been so impressive. They’ve a lot of young players coming through. They were very impressive in the (U21) Munster final. This will go down to the wire, I have no doubt about it.
“We beat them in the Championship last year. They beat us in the league. The players know each other well. A refereeing decision, a rub of the green going for you or against you, could decide this game, but there certainly won’t be much in it.”