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'There were quite a number of people in the crowd who were extremely abusive that day'

Limerick boss John Kiely was unhappy at the criticism of his players when they lost to Cork by 21 points last month.

IT HASN’T TAKEN John Kiely long to witness the dark side of inter-county management.

The Galbally native took charge of Limerick last September, having led the county’s U21s to All-Ireland glory in 2015.

Allianz Hurling League Launch Joh Kiely was In attendance at the 2017 Allianz Hurling League Launch in Croke Park. Visit www.allianz.ie for more information Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

Limerick managers and players have been the subject of both verbal and online abuse in recent years following big defeats, and a 21-point beating by Cork in January prompted another wave of abuse from some supporters.

“We have great support in Limerick, huge support in terms of numbers but they can be rather impatient at times,” Kiely said. “Maybe (we) lack a little bit of perspective on where things are at.

“That day against Cork in the Munster league, there were quite a number of people in the crowd who were extremely abusive that day.

“It was not at all appropriate that players be treated like that on the day, given the amount of time, effort and work they put into preparing themselves on the pitch, and off the pitch.”

A general view of the scoreboard at full time Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Last April then-Treaty manager TJ Ryan slammed whom he labelled as the local “vultures” for their criticism of his players.

In June, ex-Limerick goalkeeper Joe Quaid claimed young star Cian Lynch left Semple Stadium “visibly upset” after he was verbally abused by a spectator following their Munster SHC semi-final loss to Tipperary.

Kiely was adamant that the behaviour from some supporters in the wake of the 7-22 to 1-19 defeat to Cork in January was unacceptable.

“That is not something we would like to see again,” he said. “We have an awful lot of decent people involved in hurling in Limerick, and if they are people out there that aren’t behind the team, we would rather they stayed away.

“We would like to see the people who are real, true hurling people in Limerick step up and follow the team through thick and thin, through good and bad, and support the players and acknowledge the effort that the players are putting in.”

Gavin O’Mahony Limerick's Gavin O’Mahony Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Kiely has put together an extremely young squad for his first campaign in charge of his native county, and estimates the average age of his panel is just 21.3.

“(The criticism) is fine for us and the players because we are in our own bubble, but for family and friends in the stands, it is very difficult for them to take.”

Limerick have the opportunity to give their promotion hopes a massive boost when they travel to play Wexford in the league opener on Sunday.

They’ll have to plan without talented young forward Barry Nash, who has withdrawn from the panel for personal reasons. Kiely indicated the door will be left open for Nash’s return in the future.

“It is what it is. He won’t be the last. Stuff crops up and that’s the bottom line. It was his decision, his decision to withdraw and at the end of the day, it is still very early in our preparations. It is only 12 weeks into what will hopefully be a three-year term, so it is very early doors.

“I have no doubt that Barry will have a major part to play in the years ahead, who knows, maybe even at some point later this year, he may find himself in a position to return to training.

“If he wants to return, we will sit down with him and discuss that.”

Barry Nash and Stephen McDonnell Barry Nash, who has recently departed the squad, in action against Cork last month Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

With such a young panel at his disposal, up to 16 of Kiely’s players may see action tonight in the Fitzgibbon Cup – just five days before that key showdown against Wexford.

All three Limerick colleges are top of their respective groups heading into the final round robin games and the Kiely is hopeful his players will be protected with a big league game on the horizon.

Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald, who’ll go head-to-head with Kiely on the sideline this Sunday, doubles up as Limerick IT manager and the college travel to play Waterford IT tonight.

“We’re a bit wary of the Fitzgibbon Cup,” continued Kiely. “I’d be hoping Davy wouldn’t be using our players for the full duration of the game (tonight). Some of the teams have qualified so they don’t really need to play them.

Allianz Hurling League Launch Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

“It’s incumbent on the managements of those teams to recognise these are inter-county players who have a lot of demands on them and that they don’t use them unnecessarily.

“They’ve got big panels in the colleges. Most of them have 34 or 35 players and if you’re qualified for the quarter-finals why put an inter-county player through 70 minutes of hurling on a Tuesday before the Allianz League?

“That’s something we’d be hoping for, co-operation in particular from Jamie Wall (in Mary I), Davy with LIT and Brian Lohan in UL. We’ve had a great relationship with those colleges over the years so we’d be hoping they continue.”

Visit www.allianz.ie for more information.

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Kevin O'Brien

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