Hurling and camogie

Calls to grandmother leave O'Donoghue in no doubt of sport's impact

Limerick hurler William O’Donoghue pictured at Na Piarsaigh GAA Club to launch the Bord Gáis Energy Christmas Jumper campaign. Bord Gáis Energy will shortly be making 500 special county-themed Christmas jumpers available for sale – with all proceeds going to homeless charity Focus Ireland aiming to raise €20,000 to help fight homelessness in the run-up to Christmas. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

THE post-match phone calls to his granny have left Limerick midfielder William O'Donoghue in no doubt about the impact sport has had on people during lockdown.

With players travelling separately to and from games, O'Donoghue revealed that he would ring his grandmother on both legs of the journey and that she's been so taken since his instalment in the Limerick team of the last few years that the emotion of last weekend's Munster and Ulster football final shocks had her on edge.

“She lives alone obviously and it's been a tough few months for her so I give her a shout on the way.

“She's absolutely loving having something to watch so I kind of give her a shout on the way up and on the way down and I've a couple of mates that I ring to pass the time but I certainly am not sitting into the car and blasting music and getting myself psyched up.

“There's a long drive to anywhere so there's plenty of time for getting yourself in the right frame of mind so I just try to relax in the car and that's about it.

“You look at the football at the weekend. My grandmother wouldn't have been a massive GAA fan until I started playing and I rang her Sunday evening and she was on about the football matches and they were so exciting.

“For her to be saying that, she wouldn't even know who's playing or whatnot but it's something to watch, it's something to cling to and it's something to…

“It's just an outlet but also, what it's given to people, I suppose we don't understand how privileged we are to give back to people in this sense and how much it means to be people so I don't think that's lost on any player at the minute.

“We're very appreciative of what we can give to people and what it's doing for people in terms of entertainment and potentially mental health along those lines.”

O'Donoghue and six of his team-mates will go up against a very familiar face on Sunday.

Galway manager Shane O'Neill is a Limerick city native and was in charge of his and O'Donoghue's club Na Piarsaigh when they became the first ever Limerick club to win an All-Ireland club title amid a four-year spell in charge.

O'Neill, in his first year in charge of Galway, lives two minutes around the corner from his former player and they bumped into each other during the first lockdown when, as O'Donoghue puts it, “we were both wandering the roads looking for something to do.”

The Tribe boss said earlier this week that he felt running into Limerick was “an inevitability” and admitted they had cut off their regular contact after the provincial finals.

“I have a great relationship with Shane but it does not matter, it does not really impact on me for Sunday.

“It is obviously great for Shane in his first season to be doing as well as they are but to be honest I never paid much attention to what is going on in the opposition sideline so it won't…

“I would love to let on it would make a massive difference to me and add to the occasion but it certainly won't.

“I don't think it is a surprise whatsoever [that Galway are doing well under him]. They are a fantastic side so it no surprise that Shane has managed to get to an All-Ireland semi-final with them.

“If anything, I am surprised that they did not win in Leinster add to their accolades. I am not surprised at all, Shane is a fantastic manager and a great people's person.”

Limerick were raging hot favourites going into last year's semi-final against Kilkenny, only to be completely outfought and beaten.

While that will not be spoken of much in the lead in to this game, O'Donoghue admits the pain of being beaten by a team that simply worked harder has left its mark.

“Yeah, of course it does. I definitely accept that narrative. They deserved to win the game. Their workrate was incredible.

“They were 1-8 to 0-3 up, that doesn't happen by mistake. We were probably still doing everything we could, but the level to which they were performing, tackling, and working resulted in 1-8 to 0-3.

“Does that have an impact? Of course, it does. It doesn't have an impact on Sunday's game. I suppose it has an impact on when you go back training at the start of the year and you realise that this is maybe where you fell down and everyone knows to perform at that level, you need to train at that level.

“We can only prepare as best as possible, you can't guarantee that you'll be able to deliver intensities like that or match them, but you can certainly prepare for it.

“I think that would be not hurting us this week or not playing a part on anyone's mind, it certainly would have been the basis of how we would train and how we would prepare over the last few months.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Hurling and camogie