Dublin: 18°C Monday 20 September 2021

John Kiely: 'An incredible game. We didn’t turn up in the first half, Tipperary blew us off the field'

The Limerick manager guided his team to a third successive Munster senior hurling title today.

John Kiely celebrated afterwards with winning captain Declan Hannon.
John Kiely celebrated afterwards with winning captain Declan Hannon.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

HOW TO ANALYSE that afternoon of championship hurling?

John Kiely watched his Limerick team struggle in the opening half of the Munster final, a performance he reckons they cannot afford to replicate in their next outing.

But they emerged after half-time and produced the best spell of hurling that he has witnessed in his five seasons in charge of their all-conquering senior outfit.

Another Munster title was delivered at the final whistle, to boost their trophy count.

“The third quarter performance was our strongest performance in five years. it needed to be. Had to be. It was up there with our best 16 or 17 minutes of hurling. They had to stand up. We were extremely disappointed with our first half performance, really disappointed.

“We know we left ourselves down in many aspects of the game that we pride ourselves on, particularly our workrate. We won’t get away with that in the future if we allow that to happen. We managed to turn the tide today but you won’t do that consistently.

“Look, it was an incredible game. We didn’t turn up in the first half to a certain extent. Tipperary blew us off the field. They killed us with two great goals off the puckouts, which we didn’t deal with. They had a plan and they executed that plan really well.

“In the second half we came out and engaged way more physically in the game, we carried the ball a bit more forward and our confidence grew after the first couple of scores. Our full-back line, half-back line, managed to get on top, I think, and the puckouts weren’t causing us as much trouble as they were in the first half.”

Kiely felt his team relished the atmosphere whipped up by the crowd present but warned they must now regain their focus and learn the lessons of their 2019 campaign.

“You only had 6000 odd here, it felt like you had five times that, it was just an incredible occasion. But listen, we’ve been here before – Munster final in 2019, so it’s really important now for us to put it behind us, get back on the training field this week and for the lads that trained so hard this morning in Kilmallock, for them to push hard to get into our group of 26 on match-day.

“Coming out of Thurles the last day we knew we were going to have to be a better team today, we weren’t a better team in the first half, and we’ve got to learn a lesson from that, it’s really important, because we just cannot have a first half performance like that the next day.”

The Limerick boss praised both sets of players for coping with the testing conditions as the game was played out in sweltering heat.

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“We watched Monaghan and Armagh and look at the energy that they were able to bring to the table for an hour and 20 minutes above there yesterday and under the circumstances that they were in. That was a brilliant example. Wexford and Clare put on a phenomenal exhibition of energy yesterday and Dublin and Kilkenny yesterday above in Croke Park so, listen, teams can do it.

“They’re exhausted inside now, both teams I’m sure are completely and utterly exhausted but they have that within them. They train hard. They push through it. They work hard on their hydration I’m sure, both teams did and all the teams did this weekend in order to be able to cope with these conditions and hats off to them all, every player that took the pitch this weekend.

“It’s difficult. When you’re not used to it, it’s difficult but I think massive credit to them and to the nutritionists and S&C coaches who give them the advice on how to best prepare physically to come through that but they are completely and utterly exhausted.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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