From the ‘Red Army’ to the ‘Super Blues’ to the green and white of GAA, Limerick is famous for its sporting prowess.
Not only has the Treaty City produced a large number of great sports people but also has a reputation for excellent facilities and resounding support. Sport is so prevalent that Limerick had the honour of being the European City of Sport for 2011.
Not bad for the third largest city in a small nation like Ireland! Sport is woven into the fabric of the city. Rugby, hurling, Gaelic football and soccer are the most popular sports around the city with teams from school children right up to senior levels.
Cricket, boxing, basketball, tennis, golf, handball, athletics and more are also played. With the river Shannon such a prominent feature, it is no wonder that rowing is another widespread pursuit.
Munster Rugby has a huge presence but club rugby in city and county has enjoyed a lot of success too, with many players rising through the ranks to represent province and country. Limerick GAA is another giant on the sporting landscape. The Shannonsiders’ jerseys bears the legend ‘Sporting Limerick’ instead of a traditional sponsor. This is a non-commercial entity that aims to capture “all that is good and positive about Limerick sport”.
The logo is carried by several other teams and bodies and available to everyone. This initiative is strongly supported by millionaire businessman and philanthropist, JP McManus. McManus is a lifelong GAA fan and there are many more like him who turn out in their thousands for home games in the Gaelic Grounds during GAA season.
The Gaelic Grounds is the largest capacity stadium in the city with space for nearly 50,000 people. Both the men’s and ladies’ teams have done their county proud many times.
In 2014, the Limerick Senior Hurling team made it to the semi-final of the All Ireland Championship, while the Minor team won the Munster title. In 2013, the Limerick Senior and Minor teams won their respective Munster titles and both made it to the semi-final of the All Ireland. The senior team has won around 18 provincial, seven All Ireland championships and 38 other honours between all levels and competitions.
In camogie (ladies’ hurling), the county team has won honours in various categories at national level. Limerick’s Intermediate camogie team won the 2014 All Ireland title. In Gaelic football, the senior team has won two All Ireland championships and 12 other honours. The local club championships are fiercely contested, as are the schools competitions. For fixtures and information, see www.limerickgaa.ie.
Limerick also has a proud tradition of soccer. There are hundreds of local teams playing, from the schoolboy league upwards. Limerick FC is currently in the first division of the League of Ireland. It has a rich history, winning several regional and Irish titles and competing in European competitions six times. Its home games are now played at its historical home at Market’s Field. Fixtures and information are on www.limerickfc.ie.
Its stellar reputation has meant that Limerick has hosted many large sporting events. These have included the 2010 and 2014 Special Olympics Ireland Games, the World Rugby 7s 2014 and 2015, the All-Ireland Corporate Games, the 2008 and 2009 Irish Open Golf Championships, the JP McManus Pro-Am, the European Duathlon Championships and the World Powerlifting Championships.
The motto of the Munster Rugby team is “To the brave and faithful, nothing is impossible” and Limerick natives have taken that to heart, taking on amazing tasks of endurance. Sean McGowan was the first Irishman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Mark Quinn was the youngest Irishman to summit Mount Everest. During an illustrious climbing career, in which he won accolades for heroism, Ger McDonnell was the first Irishman to reach the top of K2. He died in a tragic accident on his descent. Limerick people have excelled in many other sporting endeavours.
Boxers, Andy Lee and Willie Casey, contested many a fight for European and World titles. Limerick physical therapist, Ger Hartmann treats many world-class athletes. Tennis player, Conor Niland, played at Wimbledon in 2011.
Just a few of Limerick’s sports personalities include many rugby stars like Peter Clohessy and Paul O’Connell, Olympic rower Sam Lynch, GAA legends, Mick Mackey and Ciarán Carey, International soccer player, Al Finucane and Transplant Games medal-winner, John Loftus.
With thousands of Limerick’s young people participating in sports regularly, its heritage will live on for a long while yet. ‘Sporting Limerick’ will continue to draw the crowds to behold its success.
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