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Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO Limerick hurling boss John Kiely.
# Speaking out
'We don't blackguard them' - Limerick boss on hectic playing schedule and hits out at sin bin plan
John Kiely saw his side pick up their second league win against Galway yesterday.

JOHN KIELY HAD supervised the collection of another brace of hurling league points at the expense of Galway, watched his team play in a controlled fashion and took the chance to give game time to panel members.

But it was a couple of issues off the pitch that cropped up when he spoke afterwards at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.

First up there is the sin bin, it was reported in the Irish Examiner last week that the GAA’s standing rules playing committee are set to propose it.

The 2018 All-Ireland winning boss is not a fan.

“Ah, no way. The game is fine. The game is fine, lads, the game is absolutely 100% fine. Nobody is giving out about the game, really, apart from one or two and they’re going to be giving out anyway. I think the game is fine. Leave it alone, please.”

Another topic that has flared up is the demands being placed on the best young hurlers in the country in recent weeks.

Kiely remains happy for the Fitzgibbon Cup to be run concurrently with the inter-county league, insisting they ‘do not blackguard players’ as they remain conscious of the hectic schedule at this time of the season.

The semi-finals take place next Saturday afternoon before the final is on 12 February.

“We only had 24 players togged out today. A lot of fellas with flu, fellas with a few niggly injuries. Fella playing Fitzgibbon the last couple of weeks, the U21 club championship is starting in Limerick, the freshers championship is starting and we have two lads involved in that with UL. It’s a busy, busy time.

“I don’t want to be seen as somebody who has all the answers – I most certainly don’t – and it is a challenge and you just go with your gut and you tell lads at times ‘don’t come down from Cork or Dublin or whatever it might be’. It’s all about communication and having honest conversations. If a lad is tired I want him to tell me he’s tired, you know.

“They have to report their loads into Mikey Kiely so we can manage their loads and keep an eye on their loads. We do give lads breaks and tell them to stay away and to rest up and where possible not to play. You can see that by the selections as well, trying to stay away from the Fitzgibbon guys at the same time giving them a little taste of it so they can keep their foot in the mix with us.

“It’s a work in progress. There’s no real right answers to it. I do still think this is the right time to play Fitzgibbon Cup. I probably would still like to see the league played a little bit later. Then again, with the club month that’s a challenge.

sean-finn-and-jason-flynn Lorraine O’Sullivan / INPHO Galway's Jason Flynn and Limerick's Sean Finn Lorraine O’Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

“I think if you talk to our players they’re happy with the way they’re looked after. We don’t blackguard them, I think we’re very fair with them and we have a good working relationship with Jamie Wall and Gary Kirby and all the lads involved with the colleges. They phone me, I phone them and we look after the players.

“That’s all we can do, really. I think everybody does try to do that. I don’t think there is anybody really out there to hammer players. I think everybody is cognisant of it. It is a challenge. Listen, their (Fitzgibbon) competition is a principal competition right now so that takes precedence over us. That’s the way I look at it.”

On the injury front Kiely revealed it was a precautionary move to take Richie English and Declan Hannon off during yesterday’s win. Hannon is easing back into action after an ankle injury while they opted to keep Cian Lynch, who has had a busy programme of games since the New Year, in reserve.

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Forward Kyle Hayes is trying to recovering from an injury to a tendon in his ankle which will require rest of a couple more weeks with the trio of Pat Ryan, Shane Dowling and Peter Casey remaining the more longer-term absentees in the Limerick side. Next up for them in the league is a home clash with Waterford on Saturday 15 February.

Kiely was happier with the consistency of Limerick’s hurling.

gearoid-hegarty-and-david-dempsey-tackle-padraic-mannion Limerick players Gearoid Hegarty and David Dempsey tackle Galway's Padraic Mannion

“I thought we worked the ball way better and our intensity levels were a lot higher than last week in the first half. We needed to get a full 70 minute performance in this week, we were very disappointed with last week and we got it today and we’ll try to build on it in the next few weeks.

“I thought it was a really good game, both teams went at it, both teams are fairly physical so when the two of them get together it’s abrasive. We moved the ball well, contested the ball well, we were efficient with the ball and I thought the standard was really really high and it was just a really good game for us.”

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