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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

'They had to come back in and earn their crust but I’d compliment them' - praise for Limerick's club stars

John Kiely believes the work rate of the returning Na Piarsaigh contingent this year epitomises all that’s good with the senior panel.

Limerick manager John Kiely (file pic).
Limerick manager John Kiely (file pic).
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

LIMERICK MANAGER JOHN Kiely believes the work rate of the returning Na Piarsaigh contingent this year epitomises all that’s good with the senior panel as they prepare for a tilt at Cork.

Full-back Mike Casey was the only 2018 All-Ireland club finalist who started in Limerick’s brilliant 0-27 to 1-22 victory over Kilkenny in the All-Ireland quarter-final at Semple Stadium in Thurles on 15 July.

But fellow clubmen Peter Casey, Shane Dowling and William O’Donoghue were all introduced after the 59th minute and contributed three points between them as Limerick advanced.

They take on Cork at Croke Park in their first All-Ireland semi-final appearance since 2014 on Sunday, and Kiely says the Na Piarsaigh players have had a big influence since they returned in March.

“We were left in a position where they had an All-Ireland to contest. First and foremost, their loyalty comes to their club. Club, college, county, that’s the pecking order when it comes to challenges where there’s a clash,” added Kiely.

“We kept the communication lines open between ourselves and themselves and kept clocking in with them and vice versa. All those lads played a lot with Limerick anyway so when they came back in it was just a case of get down to work, that’s the bottom line.

“It took a bit of time because they’ve got to get up to speed with where our lads are at and they’ve got to come in then and compete. There was nobody going to be handing out jerseys to lads coming back in after being away with their club for so long.

“They had to come back in and earn their crust but I’d compliment them and the effort they’ve put in since they came back in. They’ve gone out of their way to try and pick up as much as what they missed in terms of their physical preparation and in terms of the team’s preparations and you could see that against Kilkenny.

“The three lads that came on happened to be from Na Piarsaigh and they made a very handsome contribution to the team’s efforts at that stage, so that’s well behind us now.”

Limerick have not defeated Cork in a knockout championship game since 2001, and when the sides met at Páirc Uí Chaoimh earlier this summer, it finished in a 1-25 to 0-28 draw.

Limerick had Aaron Gillane sent off on that occasion, before Kyle Hayes saved them with a late leveller. And Kiely says there won’t be any obsession surrounding their opponents this week.

“Most teams now at this level, they’re very aware of the opposition and a lot of information is there. We have our own systems in place in terms of monitoring all the teams that we play.

“It’s a routine that we probably operate a 90-10 balance, 90 per cent about ourselves but yet an awareness of the opposition and a couple of considerations around their strengths and maybe potential areas that we might like to attack — that’s all.

“It is ultimately about ourselves. At the end of the day, if we don’t get that right, it’s irrelevant what we might do about the opposition. We have to get ourselves right in the first instance and that’s really the balance we try to strike and we’ve learned from the past as well.

“I’ve been involved with teams up along the line and you get obsessed with opposition and you take your eye off yourself and next thing, you find out the biggest problem wasn’t the opposition, it was yourselves that were the biggest problem so we’ve learned from our mistakes along the way.”

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Daragh Small

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