FORMER Limerick boss Richie Bennis insists all the pressure is on Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC quarter-final.
Bennis admits he’s unsure about Dublin’s ability to react under extreme pressure and believes if Limerick hurl to potential, they can achieve what would be viewed in some quarters as an upset.
Dublin walloped Kilkenny in the NHL final, but the tables were turned when the teams met again in the recent Leinster final. Bennis pinpointed the return to fitness of Henry Shefflin as the key factor in Kilkenny’s resurgence.
And Limerick’s 1973 All-Ireland medallist insists Shefflin is the greatest hurler he has ever seen.
Bennis reflected: “Dublin met a team with Henry Shefflin. I’m not taking from Tipp’s All-Ireland last year, but if Shefflin was on for the hour…he’s the man that makes Kilkenny tick. You look back on all of the matches – when he went off against us in 2007, we outscored them.
“Cork did well when he went off last year and he went off against Tipp. He’s a great player – the best I’ve ever seen. Joe Canning is a great player, but Shefflin has everything – work-rate, free-taking, tracking back.
“On top of everything, he’s a nice lad.”
Bennis believes Dublin are sailing into uncharted waters on Sunday as they carry the pre-match tag of favourites, something he suspects sits uneasily on Sky Blue shoulders.
He said: “Our work-rate will have to be very big because Dublin’s work-rate is very strong. We’ll have to match that and, if we do, we’ll be a long way there. If there was such a thing as a half-point victory, I’d settle for it. If we give a good performance and finish two points ahead of Dublin even that will mean we have advanced big time.
“But if Dublin lose, questions will be asked of them. The pressure is on Dublin – there’s no pressure on Limerick and that will suit us just fine. I don’t think Dublin are good under pressure and it’s very hard for anybody trying to make a breakthrough to carry the tag of favourites.”
Bennis added: “Everything is positive with Limerick, which is a big thing after a few very bad years. The talk is about hurling now. For the two years before if you went to the pub for a drink there wouldn’t be a mention of hurling. Donal O’Grady has brought an atmosphere back.
“A lot of people might not agree with his style, but when you get Donal O’Grady, that’s what you’re getting. I hope he’ll stay a while – the minimum term he should be given is three years.”
Bennis admits he’s not a fan of O’Grady’s short-passing style of hurling but he acknowledged: “It’s like this – I don’t care what style of play is being used as long as we’re successful. It doesn’t suit Limerick hurling but I wouldn’t make a big issue of it. There’s a great buzz around the place and people are looking forward to the Dublin game with a positive attitude.”
Bennis added: “Limerick can win. I thought we’d beat Waterford. I was on Newstalk radio the previous day and they thought I was mad, that I was wearing my green and white heart. But we were as good as Waterford and our style of play worked against them. Dublin will be more direct on Sunday – physical and well able to hurl.”
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, July 22, 2011
Article Source: Irish Examiner