John Kiely: ‘It felt like our first’:

By Stephen Barry

It may have been a historic sixth Munster hurling title in a row for Limerick but John Kiely said it “felt like our first”.

It looked like it too as the Treaty team partied at Semple Stadium before receiving a guard of honour across the field from their fans.

That proved a fitting tribute after extending their perfect final record to 14 wins out of 14 since Kiely’s appointment between League, Munster, and All-Irelands.

“It felt like our first. That’s all I’ll say to you, it felt like our first,” said Kiely.

“It means a huge amount to the group. We just want to keep going. You can’t stop moving forward.

“The boys have a very clear understanding of the necessity for us to keep moving forward, to get better, hitting the targets that we want to hit in terms of our performance. That’s all that matters to us really.

“Myself and Paul (Kinnerk) said it before the game – you feel that edge and nervousness in the pit of your stomach that you should feel when you’re in Thurles for a Munster final.

“We grew up as children looking in on these occasions, never thinking we’d ever be involved in them. And we need to appreciate every single one of them because you never know the time it’s going to be your last time there.

“I’m just glad we produced a performance worthy of it today.”

Kiely praised the nerve of his Limerick troops to hold Clare off after Gearóid Hegarty’s second-half goal. Three times the Banner got within four points but each time, Limerick replied with the next pair.

“We held our nerve well. There were times in the second half for maybe eight-ten minutes when we just got a little bit ragged. We were failing to win our puck-out. Clare were getting a couple of attacks into space off of it.

“But we got on top of it again, we got reset, we got a bit of structure in – little tweaks here and there.

“I was really happy with the impact off the bench from a structural perspective. They gave us shape. They gave us options on puck-out. They fought. They won frees. They scored. I’m very, very happy with that aspect of it.”

The victory earns the customary direct route to an All-Ireland semi-final for Limerick.

“It’s the end of that chapter for 2024, the Munster championship. We’re thrilled to have come out the right side of it. It means a huge amount to us.

“But we now know that we’re after opening another chapter, and now we have to embrace that and we have to go after that. It will mean continued work, continued hard work, chasing even greater targets.”

Clare manager Brian Lohan was also left to turn the page as his side head for the quarter-finals.

“Disappointed with the result but probably have to put your hand up as well and say you are up against a really good opponent.

“While we are disappointed, we are still proud of our lads. They are still a resilient bunch. Our lads fought hard.

“The competition is finished now. We move on to a new competition. We will try approach it as best we can.

“We have experience losing to these guys before. The lost time we lost we were able to bounce back.”