LIMERICK got their 2020 Allianz Hurling League Division 1 defence off to a winning start last weekend when they defeated Tipperary 2-14 to 0-18 In Semple Stadium.
It was a hard-fought win for a Limerick team who were not at the races, scoring only four points in the first half as Tipp held a nine-point lead at the half.
The second half performance was a complete contrast as Limerick bullied their opponents, as they did in the Munster final last year, outscoring their hosts 2-10 to 0-5 in the final 35 minutes. Reflecting on that first half, Limerick’s worst in recent memory, Kiely was unsure as to where his side got it so wrong.
“Rocky is one way to describe it. We were shocking in the first half for whatever reason. We didn’t show up in the first half and found it very hard to get to the pitch of the game. We weren’t getting out passing game home, dropping puck outs, we weren’t doing anything right. Four points was a fair reflection of our performance in the first half.”
However, there was no need to further agitate the players at the break with Kiely outlining his quick and simple half-time team talk which provided huge dividends. “We had a chat at half time, it was a short and simple chat.
“There was no paint stripped off the wall, it was very simple and straight forward. Just looked for a good reaction from the boys and I think we got a really positive reaction from the boys. Their effort went through the roof in comparison to the first half.”
While it’s still early days, Kiely said these kind of challenges are the ones you would be looking for in January as he attempts to blood new players ahead of what promises to be a long season.
“I’d rather not have to come from nine points down to finish a game.
“It’s a nice challenge to face into sometimes, at this time of the year it’s the type of challenge you have to engage in and embrace. Once we got the response in the second half, we were happy regardless of the result. If we had lost by two points I would have got over it.”
When asked about the format of the league and its value, Kiely was quick to stress the importance of the league as he believes each team goes out fully intent on winning out the early season competition.
“You want to use players across the panel, that doesn’t mean you’re not taking every game serious each week. Every team going out each week wants to win their game and that’s the bottom line. It’s not a phoney war. There’s a lot of players that would be damn proud of a National Hurling League medal when they’re finished their days. Whoever wins will earn it.”
Next up for Limerick is a clash with Galway in the Gaelic Grounds this Sunday with the Tribesmen managed by Limerick man Shane O’Neill who lead Na Piarsaigh to All-Ireland success in 2016.
Galway will come to the Ennis Road off the back of a comprehensive win over Westemath, 1-24 to 0-10 in their opener last Sunday. The Tribesmen were able to call on the services of talisman Joe Canning who missed the majority of their ill-fated Leinster campaign last summer.
Like Limerick, Galway fielded a much experimental side with Tadgh Haran standing out, notching six points from play from midfield. Limerick’s selected XV for the clash will be of much interest with the seasoned stars like Sean Finn, William O’Donoghue and Gearoid Hegarty needed from the bench in Thurles.
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