The unspoken heroes in Limerick’s back room

Strength and conditioning coach Cairbre Ó Cairealláin lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup for Limerick at last year’s All-Ireland Final.

WHILE boss John Kiely and sidekick Paul Kinnerk are household names, there are many less high profile figures that form part of a stellar backroom team with 2023 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Finalists Limerick.

These are individuals such as psychologist Caroline Currid, selectors Donal O’Grady, Alan Cunningham and Aonghus O’Brien, goalkeeping coach Timmy Houlihan, liaison officer Conor McCarthy, kitman Ger O’Connell, performance analyst Seán O’Donnell, sponsor Adare Manor, logistics manager Éibhear O’Dea, Dr James Ryan, nutritionist Eoin Murray, transport manager Kevin Griffin, and, of course, strength and conditioning coach Cairbre Ó Cairealláin.

Former Antrim hurler Ó Cairealláin joined the Shannonsiders ahead of last season. In 2019, he held a similar role with All-Ireland champions Tipperary. In times past, the Belfast native – who attended University of Limerick in the late 2000s – was attached to the women’s Arsenal FA Cup winning team of 2016.

In more recent years, he was an integral part of the hugely successful Limerick Underage Academy.

Answering a Q&A on what’s been the most exhilarating part of his career to date, Ó Cairealláin told the Irish News: “When you’re asked that question you automatically think of when the final whistle goes in the All-Ireland final and I’m lucky enough to have experienced that once with Tipp and once with Limerick.”

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“I guess they’re magical moments and something I’ll cherish forever; that first 30 seconds when you run onto the field with the players and coaches together.

“With those memories, you bond with each other. But I don’t really rely on those moments to get fulfilment; I really like working with people and trying to help them make progress on the pitch and it’s great to see how it carries over to their lives outside of sport.”

He added: “I think the environment that’s been set up by John and Paul and Caroline, it’s such an enjoyable place to be and the players are thriving in that environment as people and as hurlers. They keep wanting more and keep coming back to get more out of themselves.”

In the aftermath of Limerick’s semi-final win over Galway, Sunday Independent columnist Jamesie O’Connor commented: “Limerick’s conditioning was a sight to behold.”

Limerick team secretary is Mike O’Riordan.