John Kiely encouraged by Limerick’s development
Tuesday 14 August 2018

By Cian O’Connell

Limerick manager John Kiely smiles when acknowledging that one of the greatest Championship ingredients is momentum.

The format may have changed from his own playing days, but the belief and conviction that can be generated remains very much the same according to Kiely.

“It was cruel,” Kiely says about the glory or death element to his own inter-county playing days. But sure we knew no different at the time and just got on with it. You hoped to get that momentum again. You wanted to get on a run.

“It’s all about getting that momentum, getting on a run, getting that confidence within yourself, within the team. That hasn’t changed. You’re still looking for that bit of momentum, and that push.”

Even during tough and demanding times for Limerick, Kiely was adamant that the Treatymen could still prosper at the highest level. “I believe that anyone in any sport, if they apply themselves well enough to it, and everything around them is right, that they can compete,” Kiely adds.

“Look at the Irish hockey team last week. How did they end up in a World Cup final? Because they prepared well, they’re a unified bunch of people with a single focus, and hence they were successful and got to a World Cup final, so I believe any team in any sport, if you have people involved that are similarly minded, you can do anything.”

That burning desire within the current crop of Limerick players is something Kiely was struck by for several years. “They’ve been doing well since they started, since putting on a Limerick jersey when they were 14 years of age at Tony Forristal,” Kiely states.

“They’ve always done well up along, they’ve always been competitive, they’ve always been there or thereabouts. “They’ve won a lot, or else they’ve competed for the finals in a lot. So this group are very ambitious. It doesn’t surprise me now that at senior level they want to be as competitive.

John Kiely addresses the Limerick players following their thrilling All Ireland SHC Semi-Final win over Cork.
John Kiely addresses the Limerick players following their thrilling All Ireland SHC Semi-Final win over Cork.
“If I hurt last year, I can assure you that they hurt as much and more as I did last year. That’s part of it as well. They came back with that bit of hurt from last year, that they wanted to have a much better season this year than last year.”

As a manager how hard was it for Kiely to respond following the 2017 summer defeats against Clare and Kilkenny. “You’ve to be honest and just accept the fact that you just didn’t do it,” Kiely answers. “If you’re not being honest with yourself about what needs to be done to make things better, you’ll never improve.

“So it’s always about looking for that next level of improvement. Where’s that going to come from? A lot of that can sometimes be the systems that are in place, whether it being strength and conditioning, them being a year older, a year’s more work done under them, they’re stronger, a year’s more coaching done with Paul Kinnerk and Brian Geary, Jimmy Quilty and Alan Cunningham, that’s another thing.

“They’ve more experience from the games they’ve played. You look at the things like nutrition. What can you do to make the nutrition better? The meals at training, the meals after matches, the arrangements we make around them.

“The rehab facilities they have, the rehab equipment they have available to them. All those areas that you look at and say, how can we make things better? If you can find those levels of improvement, that will roll into the performances the team have later on.”

That has happened for Limerick throughout the current year and Kiely is satisfied with how the panel has responded through the Allianz Hurling League into the Munster and All Ireland Championships.

“I suppose we gathered a bit of momentum going through the various competitions, the boys grew in confidence and belief in themselves,” Kiely states. “I think getting out of 1B was an achievement for the lads. Coming out of Munster was an achievement for the lads. We just felt then that we wanted to have a real cut off the All-Ireland series, and see where it would take us.

“We’ve incrementally improved throughout the whole season which was a real positive as well, and something I’m very proud of.”

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