John Kiely hails Limerick’s 2023 Munster SHC success ‘highlight of my time’:

By John Fogarty Irish Examiner

John Kiely has hailed Limerick’s Munster senior hurling championship success last year as “the highlight of my time involved with the team”.

Reviewing the county’s fifth consecutive provincial title, Kiely underlined the significance of retaining the Mick Mackey Cup having only picked up three points going into the final round when the combination of their one-point win over Cork and Waterford’s victory against Tipperary secured them a final berth.

Reversing the second round loss to Clare in the final, Kiely told the Munster GAA website that he knew from the outset how difficult the competition was going to be for Limerick.

“I said it at the (championship) launch in Cork that this was going to be the toughest Munster championship in our time and it was. It was a Munster campaign that I think was the highlight of my time involved with the team anyway.” He added: “We didn’t come through it undefeated. Clare had beaten us, Tipp had drawn with us but I think we showed incredible resilience to keep going regardless.”

After the defeat to Clare and share of the spoils with Tipperary, Kiely sensed a lot of neutrals were willing for Limerick to be eliminated from the championship when they faced Cork.

“That was a very pressurised scenario that we were in at that point and, you know, there was quite a large proportion of the country hoping that the result would go against us and that we’d be out but listen we hung on in there. We managed to find a way and I think that’s a great sign of a team when you’re under the cosh like that.”

Meanwhile, Clare manager Brian Lohan has regarded 2023 as a marginally better season than 2022. The Banner reached Munster finals and All-Ireland semi-finals in both years. “You’d probably say we got a little bit better than what we were and that’s what we’re trying to do, to get better and better and better.”

Lohan revealed the panel trained up to Christmas Eve before returning a week later. Clare face Limerick in their Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League opener next Wednesday before taking on Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn on January 14.

“We’ve a big panel in at the moment working hard,” Lohan informed Clare FM. “This will be an opportunity, two games coming up in the space of four days. Training is fine but you can’t replicate inter-county experience and the quality of the other inter-county teams.”