||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
|Irish name||Risteárd Ó Binéid|
|Born||1945 (age 69–70)
Patrickswell, County Limerick
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
Richie Bennis (born 1945 in Patrickswell, County Limerick) is a former Irish hurling manager and former player. He played hurling with his local club Patrickswell and with the Limerick senior inter-county in the 1960s and 1970s. Bennis later served as manager of the Limerick senior team from 2006 until 2008.
As a player Bennis was involved with the great Limerick team of the 1970s. In a senior inter-county career that lasted from 1975 until 1985 he won one All-Ireland titles, two Munster titles and one National Hurling League title. Bennis was also the recipient of an All-Star award.
As a manager Bennis has had some success with Limerick. In 2007 he brought the team to both the Munster and All-Ireland finals, however, Limerick were beaten by Waterford and Kilkenny respectively. This was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for a team that had not won a Munster championship game in six years.
Richie Bennis was born in Patrickswell, County Limerick in 1945. He was born into a large family of seven boys and six girls, and from an early age he showed a great interest in the game of hurling. Bennis was educated locally and received his secondary schooling in Limerick. Here his hurling skills were developed further, and in 1961 he captained Limerick city to victory over Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Vocational Schools final.
Bennis played his club hurling with his local Patrickswell team. He won his first senior county title with the club in 1965. When Patrickswell won a second consecutive county title in 1966 six Bennis brothers shared the honours – Phil, Richie, Gerry, Pat, Peter and Thomas. This was the start of a remarkable run of success for Bennis with the club. He won a further eight county medals in 1969, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1987.
Bennis first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Limerick minor hurling team in the early 1960s. He later played with the county's under-21 side, however, he had little success in either grade. In 1965 Bennis made his senior debut with Limerick, however, it was a lean period for the county's hurlers. The team hadn’t won a provincial title since 1955 and hadn’t even contested a provincial final since 1956. Thius streak of bad luck continued throughout the 1960s.
By 1970 Bennis had become the first-choice free-taker on the Limerick team. That year he headed the county scoring charts, a record he held until his retirement in 1975. Bennis's first major success came in 1971 when he won a National Hurling League title after Limerick defeated Tipperary in the final at the Cork Athletic Grounds. In spite of this success the team lost out to Tipp in the subsequent Munster final by just a single point. In 1972 Limerick surprisingly lost again to Clare in their opening match of the Munster championship. One year later, however, Limerick followed up on this league success by winning the provincial final for the first time in eighteen years. Bennis played a key role in securing this win as he scored a crucial ‘65’ in the last minute of the game to give Limerick a one-point win over Tipperary. After seeing off London in the All-Ireland semi-final Limerick later lined out against Kilkenny in the championship decider at Croke Park. The game hung in the balance for the first-half, however, eight minutes after the restart Mossie Dowling got a vital goal for the Munstermen. Shortly after this Bennis spearheaded a rampant Limerick attack which resulted in a seven-point victory for Limerick. A score line of 1-21 to 1-14 meant that Bennis had secured his first, and only, All-Ireland medal. He finished off the year by winning a coveted All-Star award.
In 1974 Bennis won his second Munster title as Limerick accounted for Clare in the provincial decider. The Munster champions later qualified to play in the All-Ireland final where Kilkenny provided the oppoistion for the second consecutive year. After the first eleven minutes the reigning champions had stormed into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead, however, three goals from Kilkenny's expert forwards changed the game and secured the victory for the Leinstermen. In 1975 Bennis's side reached a third consecutive Munster final, however, an up-and-coming Cork team ended Limerick's great run on a flattering scoreline of 3-14 to 0-12. Bennis retired from inter-county hurling following this defeat.
In retirement from playing Bennis has remained strongly involved at club and county level. In his early years as a manager, Bennis took a job that would mould his managerial career. He attempted to lead Camogue Rovers to their first county title. Although unsuccessful in his bid, Bennis instilled a great belief in the team that to this day can still be seen. Unfortunately the promise and belief remain unfulfilled. That same spirit that he beat into the Junior club can be seen every time his Limerick team take to the field in modern day.
In the summer of 2006 he was appointed manager of the Limerick senior hurling team following the controversial resignation of his former team mate Joe McKenna who had also followed a similar career path once taking over the helm and trying to achieve success with the mighty Rovers.
Bennis took over Limerick mid-way through a disastrous championship season. The team had surrendered an early lead to Tipperary in the opening round of the Munster championship while the subsequent qualifier game saw Clare administer a 17-point drubbing. Bennis's side later won their other qualifier games and went on to face reigning All-Ireland champions Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final. That game saw Bennis nearly mastermind the upset of the championship, however, Cork hung on to win by a single point after a very tense affair at Semple Stadium.  At the end of the season, Bennis was appointed Limerick manager for a further two years.
In 2007 Limerick faced near neighbours Tipperary in the semi-final of the Munster championship. That game ended in a draw with both sides scoring 1-19. The replay saw Limerick in arrears by ten points at half-time, however, Bennis's side rallied to level the game at the end of normal time. A period of extra time failed to separate the sides and a score line of 1-24 to 2-21 resulted in a second replay. Once again, Limerick looked vulnerable at times during the game, however, they grinded out a victory with a score line of 0-22 to 2-13. It was Limerick's first win in the Munster championship since 2001. Bennis's side later lined out against Waterford in the Munster final, however, they were defeated on a score line of 3-17 to 1-14. These two sides later met again in the All-Ireland semi-final, however, Bennis had done his homework and masterminded a surprise victory over the Munster champions. Reigning champions Kilkenny were waiting for Limerick in the All-Ireland final, however, the Munstermen got off to a bad start and were 2-3 to 0-0 down after ten minutes. Bennis's side later settled down, however, the damage was done and ‘the Cats’ won the game by seven points.
In 2008, Limerick began well by reaching the knock-out stages of the National Hurling League, however, Cork accounted for Bennis's side in the quarter-final. Limerick's next competitive match was a Munster semi-final appearance with the winners of the Clare-Waterford quarter-final. While many people expected a replay of the previous year's Munster and All-Ireland finals Clare won the game and played Limerick in the subsequent semi-final. While many people expected Limerick to win that game relatively easily, Clare scored four goals and ended Limerick's Munster championship hopes. Limerick later played Offaly in an All-Ireland qualifier and were surprisingly beaten by a superior team, courtesy of a hat-trick of goals by Joe Bergin. Bennis's term as Limerick manager came to an end following a meeting of the Limerick county board not long after this defeat.
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- "Bennis bites the dust". RTÉ Sport. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
|Limerick Senior Hurling Manager