• Home
  • /
  • GAA
  • /
  • 'He Said, 'Don't Consider It. You Have A Massive Part To Play In This Limerick Group''

'He Said, 'Don't Consider It. You Have A Massive Part To Play In This Limerick Group''

19 August 2018; Tom Condon of Limerick celebrates at the final whistle of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
By PJ Browne Updated
Share this article

When he caught the sliotar in the 80th minute of the 2018 All-Ireland hurling final, Tom Condon brought the game and a 45-year Limerick drought to an end.

Seconds earlier, with Galway trailing by a point, Joe Canning had hit a free from his own half which dropped short of the Limerick goal.

For Limerick players, management and supporters, it was a moment of elation. Liam MacCarthy was coming back to the county for the first time since 1973.

To Condon, it was also a bit of payback.

Pictured is former Limerick Minor hurler, Tom Condon, as he looks ahead to this Sunday’s Electric Ireland GAA All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final between Galway and Clare, kicking off at 2pm in FBD Semple Stadium. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

"It's funny when you step back and analyse it all," says Condon, speaking ahead of this weekend's Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship final between Clare and Galway.


"Joe did a number on us in 2005 in the minor final. I picked up Joe in the final. After about 15 - 20 minutes, they moved in on top of him. He got one over on us that day. These things come around. I got my bit of revenge in 2018!

"He was a household name, even back then when he was only 16 or 17. He was a revelation underage. It was something that was playing in our head, 'Who's going to pick up Joe Canning?'

"You hear the talk and see videos of him being so good. You'd nearly be in awe of him even though you'd be playing against him on the same day.


"Joe, we'll say, he was able to look after himself. I remember one high ball coming in, and I got a little dunt. That winded me and the next minute, he had the ball in his hand and it was over the bar. He was very cute. He was just a phenomenal hurler, even back then at that age.

"Even in the same year, Patrick Horgan, he was playing for Cork, and I was marking him in the Munster final. Two of the all-time greatest hurlers have come from that minor championship."

11 September 2005; Conor Kavanagh, Galway, in action against Limerick players from left to right, David Moloney, Liam Hurley and Tom Condon. All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final, Galway v Limerick, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE

Condon played with Limerick for 12 years, retiring in 2021 ahead of the upcoming season. That he was still there in 2018 was largely down to John Kiely.

"I was lucky enough that I did question if I'd stay on in 2017 after we lost to Kilkenny [in the qualifiers]," said Condon.


"John Kiely sat me down and had a good chat with me. He was saying, 'Don't even consider it. We still think you have a massive part to play within this group of players. Be it on the field or being that old head around the dressing room'. He felt it was something that was needed with that group of players.

"Hats off to John, he changed my mind. There were a lot of lads I'd played with up along - Gavin O'Mahony, James Ryan, Donal O'Grady, Wayne McNamara - who'd stepped aside in those couple of years [before]. You would question things, especially when we kept not being able to get over that hurdle of progressing in the championship.

"I always had it in my head that there was something special about this group of players, and that over the course of the next four or five years, they would win an All-Ireland. I didn't expect it to be so soon in 2018. I always felt there was something brewing."


19 August 2018; Tom Condon of Limerick comes away with the ball in the dying moments of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

What did that "old head" - he was only in his early 30s at the time - bring to the Limerick dressing room?


"The lads used to be laughing because I'd be putting a bit of music on for the lads in the dressing room," said Condon.

"They were like, 'How is he not thinking of the game?' You learn how to switch on and off. You need to be able to do that. Joe O'Connor always alluded to it: You need to switch off to be able to switch on for games. You can mentally fatigue and drain yourself.

"I just got on with everyone as well. I mingled well with all the lads. In fairness, everyone does with that group of players. They were just so tight. There was always laughing and joking. Training was torture but it was always done with a smile.

"It's just having that experience around if things weren't going right in training that we'd call fellas out and we'd talk to fellas, keep an eye on fellas.

"You might see that some fellas were struggling with certain things or something might be happening in their personal life. It's things like that, that you wouldn't have at a younger age, that an older person can see."

1 March 2009; David O'Callaghan, Dublin, in action against Tom Condon, Limerick. Allianz GAA National Hurling League, Division 1, Round 3, Limerick v Dublin, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

2009, Condon's first season on the Limerick panel, ended with a 24-point defeat to Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final. The following season players, including Condon, went on strike, a decision which resulted in manager Justin McCarthy departing.

"It's mad really," said Condon, contemplating Limerick's journey from rock bottom to three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions.

"A lot of it was down to the way Limerick approached it after the whole saga with Justin McCarthy. Limerick hurling needed a course and something down on paper about what they were going to do. They set up the academy. They got the proper coaches - Anthony Daly, just to name one. The proper strength and conditioning.

"When I first came on the panel, Limerick was not the force it is now. I always felt on a given day that we could beat any team. There was always a good game in us. I always felt that if we got to the final, I always maintained that we'd win but we could never get there.

"In 2018, we did, but that was with a lot of players that came through with... I'll call it a 'winning mentality'. They were just so mentally strong, so skilful, so conditioned.

"The average age of the team is still so young - it's frightening to see. These things don't last forever. You have to make the most of it while you can. If nothing came more from this team, what they've done in the last five years for people around the county and the county itself is phenomenal."

Initially following retirement, it took Condon "a while to adjust".

"It took me a while to be able to go to the games," he said.

"Even when you used to be on the bench, your stomach would be in knots. You think when you're a spectator, it'll be easier, but you'd still be nervous for the lads. Most of these lads, I've trained with and know what they're going through.

"I've done a small bit of commentary for the local radio station. It's given me a different perspective on games. It's taken me out of my comfort zone as well."

In recognition of the major impact of playing Minor, this summer Electric Ireland is using their social channels to spotlight a player each week partaking in the Football, Hurling and Camogie Minor Championships. A Player of the Week is revealed weekly on Electric Ireland’s Twitter page (@electricireland). Later this year, Electric Ireland will celebrate the achievements of players from the Minor Championships through the Electric Ireland GAA and Camogie Minor Star Awards. You can follow the campaign on social media @ElectricIreland and via the hashtag #ThisIsMajor.

See Also: Anthony Daly Hails Limerick Hurling's 'Master' And 'Innovator'

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com