Clare looking to be first team to inflict three defeats on Kiely’s Limerick

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Clare's Tony Kelly tackled by Diarmaid Byrnes during their Munster championship clash in Ennis.

DESPITE being favourites to claim a fourth successive Munster title, Limerick will be given their sternest test by Clare in Sunday’s Munster Hurling Final.

And the quality of the opposition is something John Kiely will be keenly aware of.

In his five years in charge, the Galbally native has transformed Limerick into a hurling powerhouse, not only ending a 45-year wait for All-Ireland honours but leading the side to back to back titles and a trio of Munster championships on the trot.

Yet, Clare have proved awkward customers for Kiely’s men and were victorious in his first game in charge in 2017.

In this weekend’s venue, sloppy Limerick defending proved costly in a 3-17 to 2-16 defeat. A reversal against Kilkenny followed as the Shannonsiders bowed out of the championship without a win.

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However, the following year, Limerick rebounded in style to claim Liam MacCarthy honours, ending the famine. Clare did get one over Limerick in Munster that year and fell just short of a rematch in the final as they were defeated in a replay by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Clare and Kilkenny are the two teams to beat Kiely’s men on more than one occasion since his appointment. While Limerick won in successive ties in 2019 and ‘20, Kiely is aware of the Banner’s prowess under Brian Lohan as they topped the round robin table in Munster.

“They’ve got class players all over that pitch, they’re working really really hard, they’re putting in huge shifts out on the pitch. Any team that’s doing that gives themselves a chance. They’ve been the best team in Munster to date this year. That’s just the facts, the challenge is there for us to go and take them on Sunday week, see can we find a better performance to challenge them more.”

The last time the stakes were this high between the neighbours, Kiely was a part of the Limerick squad as he hopes to emulate the team of 1996 en route to another Munster title.

The post “They’ve been the best team in Munster to date this year” | Clare looking to become first team to inflict three defeats on John Kiely’s Limerick appeared first on Sporting Limerick.