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Local clubs need to stop the slide as we face into a new season

(Munster Junior Cup victory for Shannon in 2018)
OVER the coming weeks clubs will be edging back into pre-season training and for some local sides, the campaigns will carry an extra challenge.
Limerick fields 14 senior/junior teams: Garryowen and Young Munster in AIL 1A, Shannon in 1B, Old Crescent and UL Bohemian in 2A and Bruff in 2B. In the junior ranks Richmond, Thomond, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale, St Mary’s and Galbally will compete in the Munster Junior competitions and Presentation and newly-formed Ardscoil Ris Old Boys will strive to move up another level.
A player pool of at least 40 is required for each club and indications over recent seasons are that recruitment, for key positions in particular, is becoming a problem. Munster’s demands on player availability continues to impinge on the ability of club selectors and the ‘amateur’ game continues to suffer.
Season 2018/19 has not been a good one for Limerick teams. Shannon went down to 1B in the AIL, Thomond dropped back to junior ranks for the first time in 20 years and once again a local club failed to reach the semi-finals of the All-Ireland League, a title that has evaded Limerick sides since nine-times winners Shannon last lifted the cup in 2009.
Our chances of success in this coming AIL campaign hardly raises the heartbeat. Young Munster had to hang in for survival at the top echelon at the end of 2018/19 and Garryowen’s bold bid came up short because did not have enough quality in their squad for the final shake-up. Neither are expected to be serious challengers.
Shannon, who have recruited former out-half Tadhg Bennett from Richmond as backs coach, will be expected to make a bold bid for a return to 1A but in 2A both UL Bohs and Old Crescent will have to show big improvement if they are to be promoted.
Bruff, now our only representatives in 2B, look capable of rising a division and they just came up short last season in the play-offs.
The prospects of success in junior ranks also looks bleak. It will be interesting to see how Thomond deal with Sunday football in their new surroundings. They need to get a few good wins under their belt in the opening rounds of the MJL1 but if they do, it could trigger a serious drive for the title and a quick return to senior ranks.
Newcastle West appear to be the best bet for local success. The Young Muster 1993 AIL winning trio of Ger Earls, Aidan O’Halloran and Declan Edwards have contributed a lot to the county club with Earls back as head coach and Edwards now given a role as development officer for 2019/2020.
Richmond are always sniffing around in the top four region and may be in the mix but Abbeyfeale and Galbally may only have survival as their priority.
St Mary’s, relegated to MJL2 at the end of the last season, may need another campaign before they return to the higher division. They have some very talented players in their squad but they need more experienced performers if they are to get a promotion ticket.
The continuing influx of foreign players into the Munster squad has had a negative effect on young players coming through. Teenage dreams of playing in the famous red shirt can too be shattered, resulting in the loss of promising local talent and out of Limerick’s current tally of 14 clubs, you could count on one hand the number who actually make the grade in the professional game.

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