‘I am so proud of them’ - Limerick survive their most arduous test

John Kiely praises bench contribution as Clare get ready to do it all again

Limerick in recent years have tended to achieve lift-off from the Munster final on but they had never been pushed as hard in the provincial decider as this time when it took extra time to shake off Clare.

Manager John Kiely was understandably delighted with his players, who had survived not only a searching test but also a difficult first half of the year and an arduous round-robin series in which they lost their Hurler of the Year, Cian Lynch for the rest of the provincial championship.

“All hats off to my crew, I am so proud of them. We had a tough spring, we had a really tough spring. We worked really, really, hard. We have come through the round robin and as you can see we really, really wanted to win this game today.

“It meant a huge, huge amount to us — very proud of the display by the lads. In particular the way they just stuck at it was really important. We never deviated away from what we wanted to do and when the lads came off the bench, they made a huge impact, as well. Our subs made a massive, massive impact.

“When we reflect on it, on the scoreboard and in terms of possessions, hooks blocks, they are going to be well up there in terms of contributing to the overall result.”

The physical collisions could be felt in the stands, as the two teams went about their business. Kiely demurred at the imagery of war but acknowledged the intensity of the exchanges.

“They are two honest sides who really go at each other in every sense of the word. I think there was no quarter asked or given. The game could have gone any way. I just think our experience shone through in the finish and we were able to find those vital scores when it mattered.”

Having run the most dominant team of the era to a damned close-run thing, Clare manager Brian Lohan didn’t have a lot to say afterwards. The disappointment of his team was obvious.

“We’ve a good group there that work exceptionally hard,” he said, “and they give their all every time they go out. We couldn’t ask for any more. Unfortunately for us it wasn’t good enough today.”

Even the ritualistic encouragement that such a strong display gives a great platform for the rest of the season didn’t have the desired effect.

“It just puts us under pressure for the next two weeks. It’s going to be hard to recover from that, mentally and physically, so we’ll see how we go.”

His team were wilting in extra time, as Limerick stepped it up. He accepted that they had been chasing the match from there.

“Yeah, I suppose we were, yeah. They got the first two points which was a tonic for them and it’s tough to come back from them but our lads are made of good stuff and it’s just unfortunate. I’ll leave it at that lads, okay?”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times