‘It’s going to need a lift’ – Limerick’s John Kiely says sport will be vital in lifting mood of nation on return

Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates last year’s Munster final success over Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile

Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates last year’s Munster final success over Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORT will have a huge role to play in “lifting the spirits of the nation”whenever normality returns in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, according to Limerick hurling manager John Kiely.

Inter-county players are no different to the rest of the population in facing this unprecedented challenge, but Kiely stressed that they need to stay healthy like everyone else.

“As for our players, we’ve given them their individual programmes now that they can work on themselves at home,” the Limerick boss told RTÉ Radio today.

“They’re well able to manage that – they’re as qualified as an awful lot of people that are instructing them really, they’ve been through the mill a number of years now and they know what’s expected of them.

“They need to look after themselves and ensure that when this is all over, they can resume full training again and be fit and healthy and well.

“It’s an opportunity for them to rehab injuries and to freshen up and come back with a great appetite when this is over – and hopefully provide us with lots of fantastic entertainment, that I’m sure the nation will need as an uplift when this is over.

“It’s going to need a lift, and I think sport will be a huge player in lifting the spirits of the nation when sport does come back on the agenda again.”

Kiely was speaking in the wake of Limerick GAA’s decision to postpone all club championship matches, covering football and hurling in all grades, that had been pencilled in for the ‘club-only’ month of April.

This is an extension of the decision announced by Croke Park chiefs, at central level, to call off all GAA activity until at least March 29. Most observers expect that blanket ban to extend beyond that initial date.

“As an inter-county manager, looking at this problem, it’s obviously another challenge for us,”said Kiely.

“We’ve had the players in with us for a number of months, training and playing matches and we were coming to the closing stages of the National Hurling League.

“But since Thursday we’ve all realised that a far bigger issue has come over the horizon for us all to deal with – a far bigger challenge – and there’s a huge onus on us all to knuckle down and do everything that we can within our own environment.

“We need to look after our neighbours, our families and friends – and get back to the basics really and take on that responsibility that’s being asked of us.”

In his own role as principal of the Abbey School in Tipperary town, the Limerick manager had been making contingency plans for the nationwide school closure announced last Thursday.

“We were preparing for a number of weeks beforehand, a number of the staff were helping to set up Office 365 with Microsoft teams, and that facilitates the students and the staff being able to work from home,”he explained.

“Even though we’re not in the school, technology allows us to have an interaction with the students at home. And to be fair, the students and the staff have worked really hard on that, and we got off to a great start on Friday.

“I know this is happening in schools all over the country. Staff will sit at home this morning at their table at home, or their office maybe at home, and they’ll be communicating with their students, setting them work, receiving work back from them, correcting work, planning work for later on in the week, and that will go on right through the next number of weeks, however long it takes.

“We’re very fortunate that our teachers are so dedicated and hard-working. They’re trying to ensure the students are kept busy at home and that they will be ready for their exams, when the exams come around, whenever they do come around.

“At the moment, we’re worried about the health and welfare of our family, our friends, our neighbours. I take great confidence from the fact that we have Dr Tony Holohan and his team, and the Government I think are really on top of things.

“I think they’re being well supported by the guards, the army, health service workers. We have over 120,000 people working in the health sector. Out of respect for the effort that they are putting in right now, I think everybody else needs to follow suit and do whatever they can.

“They’re at the coalface, they’re doing what they can, putting in huge, huge shifts at great expense to them and their families – and at huge risk as well.

“So in solidary with those people, we need to do what’s right now. And we need to do whatever is expected of us and that’s the bottom line.”