“Our focus is on us” | John Kiely blocking the outside noise as Limerick prepare for Munster Championship defence

For the fourth successive year Limerick will enter the championship as the team to beat with no one able to crack the code since the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final.

It feels like every year the current iteration of the Limerick hurling team are chasing another piece of history. In only his second year in charge of the Limerick senior hurlers, John Kiely led the side to a first All-Ireland title in 45-years.

A 22-year wait for a League title was ended the following season with the team without a championship loss since that year also. 2020 brought with it the perfect season as Limerick annexed all available titles. The following year the side retained the All-Ireland championship for the first time before making that three-in-a-row last July.

This season, they will be looking to become the first ever Limerick side to win five successive Munster championships and hoping to join Kilkenny and Cork as the only teams to win an All-Ireland four in a row.

The bookies cannot see past the Limerick juggernaut rolling on but Kiely isn’t getting carried away with a highly competitive, “humdinger” of a Munster championship to navigate first.

“I think this particular championship coming promises to be really competitive. You have five really strong teams there now and on any given day any of these sides are capable of beating one another. So I think you’re going to have a humdinger of a Munster championship this year.

“You don’t have time to lick your wounds if you have a bad day at the office and likewise you don’t have much time to get carried away if you win either because you’re six days away from your next game.”

5 April 2023; In attendance, from left, Noel McGrath of Tipperary, Jamie Barron of Waterford, Mike Casey of Limerick Niall O’Leary of Cork and Ryan Taylor of Clare at the launch of the Munster GAA Championship at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

For the fourth successive year Limerick will enter the championship as the team to beat with no one able to crack the code since the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final.

Yet, Waterford did push Limerick all the way in the second round of the 2022 Munster Championship. A stellar Aaron Gillane performance, where he hit 0-13, helped the Shannonsiders over the line against the then-League champions.

Waterford failed to regroup and exited at the provincial stages with Limerick going on to make it three-in-a-row. Kiely is expecting a stern test from the Deise to kick-start their championship campaign but as always, the focus rests on themselves.

“It will be a strong challenge I’ve no doubt about that. We saw glimpses of it in the league, trying out different things and we know that they will bring a strong challenge and huge energy on the first day.

“But our focus is on us and being the best team we can be. Being able to bring that experience that we have built up but also the hunger and appetite that we always have for championship games. I’m sure it will be a tremendous game of two strong and hungry teams going at it. We just want to make sure we get our preparations right and be the best team we can be on the 23rd.”

The wait is nearly over but who will get the upperhand as Davy Fitzgerald and John Kiely meet for the first time in the championship.

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