Internal competition raising standards in Limerick says Kiely
Allianz Hurling League Division One semi-final: Limerick 1-28 Tipperary 0-25
John Kiely believes Limerick’s competition for places can raise the All-Ireland champions’ standards to even greater heights.
Their second-half demolition job brutally extinguished Tipperary’s hopes of a first League title since 2008 as they outscored them 1-14 to 0-4 in the 26 minutes after the break.
Liam Cahill could only watch on with envy as Kiely held back five Allstars on the bench – six if you factor in Darragh O’Donovan, ruled out with a minor knock.
He didn’t call on any of them until the hour mark, with the comeback already complete and a League final spot secure. Kyle Hayes and Dan Morrissey will be bulling into training this Tuesday having received no game-time at all while their replacements impressed.
“We just want to keep improving week-to-week. That’s where our focus is at,” said Kiely.
“The next two weeks we are just going to see if we can raise the bar further for ourselves. A lot of lads have really put their hands up with that second-half performance.
“That’s only going to be good from a competitive perspective in terms of team selection for the next day.”
The ability to turn around the battle for possession was key for Limerick. Neither side struck a wide in that 26-minute period of dominance. Limerick didn’t rely on Tipp misses and they didn’t waste any chances of their own, with Peter Casey converting the only goal opportunity all game.
Peter Casey kicks the ball into the net for Limerick to increase their lead to six against Tipperary. pic.twitter.com/4Tf3TJE7lR— The GAA (@officialgaa) March 25, 2023
Like their 2021 Munster final turnaround, the Limerick defence wiped out Tipperary under the dropping ball, led by man of the match Declan Hannon. The Tipp forwards, so effective in taking a 0-16 to 0-12 half-time lead, didn’t get a sniff after the break.
For Limerick, every player from number 4 to 15 scored at least once.
“First half, we struggled big time,” said Kiely. “Just couldn’t get to grips with the movement. Tipp players were popping up picking up puck-outs in the middle of the field with time on the ball. Their accuracy rate was through the roof.
“To be only four points down at half-time was an achievement in itself. We weren't value for that. We could have been further down by right.
“The response from our lads in the first 15 minutes was really, really strong. We rose the intensity of it. Once we got the ball to ground, or won it clean ourselves, we were able to have some possession we could use.”
Tipp had scored 14 goals in five games but the failure to create so much as one goal chance concerned their manager.
“When you play the likes of Limerick, you need to be putting on three or four goal opportunities and converting two or three minimum,” said Cahill.
“I don’t think we created any real clear-cut goal chance. That would be the one major worry I have leaving tonight.”
His biggest positives were the performances of former Munster Rugby academy prospect Alan Tynan (0-4 from midfield) and Gearóid O’Connor (0-3). They were the only pair to score from play after the break.
“You need big fitness levels, big physicality, good hurling brain. Everything that’s required now in the game Limerick seem to have in abundance,” said Cahill.
“They don’t look like stopping any time soon.”
Limerick: N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, B Nash (0-1); D Byrnes (0-6, 0-5 frees), D Hannon (0-2), C Coughlan (0-1); B Murphy (0-1), W O’Donoghue (0-1); C O’Neill (0-2), C Lynch (0-2), T Morrissey (0-2); P Casey (1-2), A Gillane (0-7, 0-6 frees), D Ó Dálaigh (0-1).
Substitutes: G Hegarty for O’Neill (60); C Boylan for Morrissey (62); R English for Finn (65); S Flanagan for Gillane (70+1); M Houlihan for O’Donoghue (70+3).
Blood sub: G Hegarty for Murphy (51-54)
Tipperary: B Hogan; E Connolly, M Breen, Johnny Ryan; D McCormack, B O’Mara, R Maher; C Stakelum, A Tynan (0-4); S Kennedy (0-2), N McGrath (0-1), G O’Connor (0-3); J Forde (0-14, 0-11 frees), P Maher, J Morris (0-1).
Substitutes: E Heffernan for Stakelum (51); M Kehoe for P Maher (51); J McGrath for Morris (56); C Bowe for Kennedy (65).
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).