LIMERICK hurling is in no crisis insists victorious U-21 hurling manager John Kiely.
Ahead of his side’s Munster title success, Limerick had lost provincial finals at minor and intermediate level and the seniors crashed out of the All Ireland SHC before the quarter final stage for the first time since 2010.
“Clare were on the back of three All Irelands and three Munster so this is huge and we have a very very young squad,” beamed Kiely.
“A Munster final in minor, a Munster final in intermediate, Munster champions in U-21, there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t think Limerick hurling is in any crisis,” stressed Kiely.
“There is lots of opportunity there for the years ahead and its a case of getting on now and seasoning them and drive on from here.”
His side had 14 challenge games played ahead of the Munster championship and the opening round win over Tipperary was essential, according to Kiely.
“When you we had come off the back of three years of not having won a first round there was significant pressure to get over the hurdle and break that duck and that pressure was significant last time out against Tipp but tonight I felt coming into the game that pressure was gone. A lot of the players had said to me that they did feel coming into the Tipp game that it was a significant factor,” he explained.
“We couldn’t go another year, a fourth tear, without a win at U-21 and all these players coming though from minor teams - it wasn’t on and we had to stop it.”
The title was build on hard “work”.
“We have the work done - we are together since last November. Ross Corbett has done a fantastic job with the strength and conditioning and Jimmy Quilty is just phenomenal on the coaching side and John Flavin is also there on the field coaching. We have a great backroom team around us and there is a great atmosphere there and we are all on the one path. Everyone knows their job and does their job,” outlined the Galbally man, who was a selector on the last U-21 Munster winning side of 2011.
He explained the winning tactics.
“Before the game and all week long our plan was to put pressure on their puckouts - I was here to see their Waterford game and we had played Clare a few weeks ago in a challenge match and the percentage of puckouts that they were winning was high-70s to early-80s and if you are winning that much puckouts you are going to win every game. We won a good percentage of their puckouts and we turned them over and that’s another aspect of our game to turn over ball and that’s because they worked hard - they keep chasing back, you will notice we never see a guy pull the handbrake and stop - you have to run 80-yards to get back because you have to whether you are corner forward or where you are. We turned over a lot of ball by just getting there and disrupting and getting in second tackles and we are very pleased to do that because that we what we set out to achieve,” outlined Kiely.
Overall, this final win took much a similar path to the semi final win over Tipperary.
“It was very very similar to the Tipperary game - we got a good first 20-minutes that we would be happy enough with, we could have got one or two more scores but we were four points up and quite happy the way things were going but then we had our bad patch against before half time and we are going to have to look at that because we conceded four or five scores on the trot and ended up going in two down.”
It was 0-12 to 0-10 to Clare at the break.
“I wasn’t happy at half time,” conceded the manager.
But the switches worked wonders.
“I was concerned and we made one change when we put Ronan (Lynch) to the edge of the square because we felt Tom (Morrissey) might win more ball and have more energy having being inside for the first half - it was more luck than anything else but Ronan did well inside and won his ball and made runs into the corners and Tom started to win ball off Conor Cleary in the half forward line,” revealed Kiely.
“We found holes, down the wings and down the channels and that’s how the game moved in our favour.”