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'There's 10 of us involved so in lots of ways it's a headache for John Kiely'

Limerick may need to make a Division 1 final if the Na Piarsaigh contingent are to see any game-time in the league.

WHILE NA PIARSAIGH’S run to the All-Ireland club hurling final has been a boost for Limerick hurling, it has meant their 10 county panelists have been unavailable to John Kiely for the Division 1B campaign to date.

AIB GAA All Ireland Senior Football and Senior Hurling Club Championship Finals Media Day Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

Not that it’s affected the Shannonsiders much so far. Kiely’s side sit on top of the second tier after four successive wins and boast a scoring difference of +56.

Beat Galway in Salthill on Sunday and they’ll secure promotion to the top flight of the league for the first time since 2010.

Limerick hurling is riding the crest of a wave at the moment, with Na Piarsaigh bidding to win their second Tommy Moore Cup in three years, while hurling nursery Ard Scoil Ris have dominated the Harty Cup over the last decade.

When you factor in the couple of All-Ireland U21 titles the county have delivered since 2016, it’s clear Limerick are enjoying a talent boom.

“Even going to league games this year and looking at the way they’re playing there seems to be a great system of play there at the moment,” Na Piarsaigh forward Kevin Downes said at today’s AIB club finals media day.

“Everyone seems to know their role and performances have been very good. They’re unbeaten in the league and it’s set up for a big one against Galway on Sunday.

“Things seem to be there with Ard Scoil Ris, with the U21 successes, even going back to the U21 success in Munster in 2011, and ourselves winning it in 2016 and winning a couple of Munsters, Kilmallock have won a couple of Munster clubs, so things should be there.

Kevin Downes celebrates after the game Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“There has to be a group of players there and enough talent to be able to do something. It’s a case of getting this together, getting the right balance and getting a couple of wins.

“You can see the wins in the league breeds a bit of confidence and belief, it backs up everything you’re doing in training and makes going back training the next week that bit easier so it definitely fills you with a bit of belief.

“Things seem to be going in the right direction and it’s a very good set-up there with John (Kiely) and Paul Kinnerk doing the training so things seem to be there, it’s only up to the players to produce it.”

With the Division 1 semi-finals scheduled for the weekend after Na Piarsiagh face Cuala in the All-Ireland final, Limerick might need to make the league final before Kiely can begin to reintegrate the club contingent back into the team.

“There’s 10 of us involved so in lots of ways it’s a headache for John Kiely. I’m sure he’s delighted to have a Limerick team above in Croke Park when there’s an All-Ireland final, but it’s very difficult for him and us having so many there that aren’t involved in the panel.

“Then we’ll come back after St Patrick’s Day and it’s a short enough window to championship then especially with the club’s month as it is in April so it’s going to be difficult.

“How it’s going to pan out I’m not too sure but once the club thing is over we’ll have to go back and try to hit the ground running. They’re in good form at the moment so we’ll have to be chomping at the bit and try and stake out claim when we’re back in the short window we have.”

With his mind fully focused on the St Patrick’s Day decider, Downes isn’t sure when he’ll be expected to return to county training.

“It’s a conversation we’ll have to have after (the final). At the moment we’re focused on the game. I suppose you’ll have some bit of a wind down period and then before you tear back into what’s involved in an inter-county set-up.

“You have to be fresh in that as well, hungry and mad for road. I’m sure we’ll have a conversation with John after the game, win or lose, and see what’s going to happen.”

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