Hurling & Camogie

Limerick hurling manager John Kiely not worried by outside noise ahead of crunch Tipperary clash

John Kiely takes his Limerick side to Tipperary on Sunday knowing they may need a win to keep their All-Ireland defence alive. Picture by Philip Walsh
John Kiely takes his Limerick side to Tipperary on Sunday knowing they may need a win to keep their All-Ireland defence alive. Picture by Philip Walsh

John Kiely can see the line of improvement in Limerick’s Championship performances even if results haven’t yet reflected that.

The All-Ireland champions edged past winless Waterford before falling to Clare but their manager has identified signs of progress, even in defeat, ahead of their Munster SHC tangle with Tipperary this Sunday.

He also dismissed the idea that winning the League could’ve harmed their Championship prospects, as was speculated with Waterford in 2022.

“I don’t think you could draw any comparisons to last year,” said Kiely. “We were very competitive in both games, got a win in the first game.

“Our performance levels went significantly up [against Clare], which is what we were hoping for.

“It wasn’t quite good enough but I think we earned enough chances to score. Our efficiency in front of goal was a bit down, just over 50 per cent.

“That’s not a high enough level, that’s the simple fact of it.”

Any notion that such a defeat might have damaged Limerick’s aura of invincibility gets little contemplation; Kiely doesn’t believe it existed in the first place.

His troops don’t consider the external expectation, with their humility key to processing both the hype and now the “dose of reality” of a first defeat in 17 games.

Kiely is keen to concentrate on how Limerick played rather than the outcome.

“We focus on different things. We are more performance-orientated. We don’t allow those narratives to come into our thinking because they are not real. They are just perceptions, opinions, and speculation.

“They don’t mean anything, really, when you are in a battle and need to win a puckout and get some dirty ball.

“We have had a real dose of reality so we have to absorb that, process that, and get going again.”

Should Cork manage a win away to Clare, Limerick’s task enters must-win territory to keep their Munster and All-Ireland title defences alive.

Playing against Tipperary this summer brings a different dimension for Kiely, a secondary principal across the border in the Abbey School in Tipperary town, falling as it does in the school calendar.

“The boys in the school are very capable of having a cut! It’s very good-natured,” he says. “There will be huge excitement around it.”

Kiely was speaking at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation fundraising drive, in association with The Circet All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge.

His involvement with the foundation came about after a chance meeting with the former Dan Quirke, whose son Dillon collapsed and died while playing a Tipperary SHC match for his club Clonoulty-Rossmore.

“The aim of the foundation, to screen young people under the age of 16 and help them and their families to become aware of conditions that they might not be aware of and how to manage those and hopefully save a few lives along the way is a very noble aim and ambition and desire for the foundation,” he said.

“I think the Association will help too. I know there’s been a bit of disappointment around the jersey part of it but in the fullness of time, I think the Association’s contribution will be seen to be significant.

“This will hopefully be here for a long, long time and we’ve to look at the big picture as well.”