29 Sept 2022

OPINION: Munster Hurling Cup an ideal foundation for Limerick success - Jerome O'Connell


Barry Nash (Limerick) and Diarmud Ryan (Clare) with Liam O’Flaherty, Head Of Dairygold Agri Business ahead of Sunday's final

IT was only the Munster Hurling League or Munster Hurling Cup but what a feelgood factor there was in TUS Gaelic Grounds for Limerick v Kerry.

It’s remarkable to think that Limerick have won two All-Ireland and Munster SHC titles and an Allianz League since John Kiely’s side had last played in front of a home crowd.

Not surprisingly the 5000 crowd which is allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions sold out and it was great to see so many children in attendance to see their hurling heroes up close and personal.

On the field of play, those in the jerseys may have been different, but Limerick were just as efficient in terms of style of play and result.

Six players not involved last season got a chance to impress and all did enough to warrant another chance in the coming weeks.

Credit John Kiely and his backroom team, Limerick have already treated this early season competition with respect and in return have garnered many positives from the games.

Next Sunday will be Limerick’s 15th game in the competition since John Kiely’s debut in Dungarvan in January 2017.

It’s a competition that kicked off a run of eleven trophies for the men in green when Paul Browne lifted the trophy in 2018 and it’s a competition that have ensured Limerick set off on the right foot each season – 11 wins from 14 outings so far across five competitions.

Those 14 games have seen Limerick use 61 players from 26 different clubs and returned Munster League titles in 2018 and 2020, while losing the final to Cork in 2017.

“We have always entered the Munster League and always found that we have got something out of it and that it has been a positive experience,” said John Kiely of the Co-Op Superstores sponsored competition.

He points out the value of giving game time to newcomers and those who might have been outside of the first team the previous season.

“That’s really important from their perspective in terms of development and confidence. We got to try and build their confidence levels and it is only outside on the pitch that you will do that. It’s important from a confidence perspective to get a bit of game time. It drives them on for the subsequent weeks in training,” said Kiely ahead of Sunday’s final against Clare, which is a repeat of the 2018 decider.

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