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Weight of history won't have effect on Limerick: Ryan

By John Campbell

It's 41 years since Limerick last won an All-Ireland hurling championship match against Kilkenny.

Yet manager TJ Ryan insists that his team that will not be unduly burdened by the baggage of history when they confront the Cats in tomorrow's semi-final at Croke Park.

"This is a different Limerick side that is focused on the future rather than on the past," insists Ryan. "These players are intent on creating their own history."

Last year Limerick were decidedly below-par when eventual All-Ireland champions Clare beat them convincingly and since then Ryan's players have been determined to make up for what they felt was an embarrassing lapse.

Tomorrow that opportunity presents itself but even though they will go into the match fortified by a 24-point drubbing of previously high-flying Wexford in the quarter-finals (4-26 to 1-11), Limerick still find themselves cast in the role of underdogs.

That's because Kilkenny have already signalled their intention of reclaiming the Liam McCarthy Cup. Brian Cody's men looked impressive in overcoming Dublin in the Leinster final and it's hardly surprising that with numerous selection options, Cody is cool-headed in his approach.

"The team is playing with great passion and commitment. I thought they showed a lot of honesty and character in winning the Leinster championship and this will certainly stand to them," maintains the long-serving Cody.

Henry Shefflin may be in the twilight of a distinguished career but he will still represent a huge threat to a Limerick defence underpinned by full-back Richie McCarthy and centre-half-back Wayne McNamara.

Richie Power is also a big threat but Limerick are not without their quota of shooting stars. Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes and Graeme Mulcahy form an exciting full-forward line that could pose problems for the Cats defence.

But they are still likely to find Kilkenny's overall zeal and hunger rather too much – again.

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