The 2018 All-Star half-back didn’t have much time to prepare himself to be the All-Star full-back.
efore 2020, Dan Morrissey had some experience of manning the edge of the square and he had also been used at midfield at various points in his career but after 2018 in particular, he looked set for a career in the half-back line.
But when injuries hit, 2020 was suddenly looking very different for himself and Barry Nash, who was also pressed into action in the full-back line.
“It really was a last-minute decision,” Morrissey says of the move.
“Richie English was obviously a doubt, then Mike Casey did his cruciate in a challenge game and Aaron Costello got injured the week before we played Clare. It wasn’t until the Friday night before we played Clare that I was told I was going full-back so I didn’t have much time to get used to it.
“Thankfully, Barry and myself settled in after the first game and we knuckled down. It was an enjoyable experience,” he adds.
Morrissey was superb all year, making the shift to full-back look simple. He finished the year as the All-Star number three but suggests that being adaptable is just part of the demands of the modern game.
“I think the way hurling is nowadays, everyone is used to playing different positions because in training you’re exposed to so much, both the defending and attacking side of the game. I don’t think there is as big a difference nowadays as there would have been 10 or 20 years ago.
“When you’re in the full-back line, you might find yourself in the half-back line for periods of a game. full-back and corner-back are often rotating. Barry would always have been a forward at underage and he only moved into the backs in the last year.
“Obviously, last year was his first time in the full-back line and he settled in brilliantly. I just think it’s a matter of players being able to adapt. You even saw Kyle Hayes going back into the backs. In every county now, inter-county players are well able to adapt to a lot of positions.”
Limerick didn’t miss a beat and didn’t lose a game on their way to a second All-Ireland title in three years and another season that has seen them hoover up silverware. Even before they saw off Waterford in a bitterly cold Croke Park, there were comparisons with the record-breaking Dublin footballers.
“I think we’re a very good bunch to block out outside noise. We know we’ve had a great few years, but we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We kind of take it game by game. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but there are six or seven teams who can beat each other on any given day.
“A lot of games are only won by a puck of a ball. Even in 2018, we were very lucky to come out on the right side in a couple of games and in 2019 it probably came against us when we were beaten by a point in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“There is very little between teams, look at how competitive the Munster Championship is. We know we have a good team, we’re going to try and win as much as we can for as long as we can, but I am sure there are other counties saying the exact same.”
Limerick get their season under way this coming Saturday at 5.30pm, when they face Tipperary. That game comes just 19 days after the sides were officially permitted to return to training.
“Given the calendar that they had, and that they had to have the All-Ireland finals played by the middle of August to give club players proper time, I was very happy with the fixture schedules.
“I would have, at the time in February and March, kind of criticised the GAA for not following up on the elite status a bit more.
“I thought they could have pushed that a bit more to try to get us back a bit earlier to give the club player a bit more time then.
“But look, that wasn’t to be. In terms of just having the 19 days, every team is in the same boat so it’s not going to benefit one team over another.
“In terms of injuries, it’s not as if players have been doing nothing over the last few months and just are coming back from zero to flat-out training, everyone has been working away by themselves the last few months. So I don’t think that should be a major issue.”
Full-back or half-back, Morrissey is just keen to get going.