“They are buzzing to have made it through to the Munster final” | Kiely proud of his side as they get the job done against Cork

The Shannonsiders secured a one point victory over Cork in a thrilling battle at the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Sunday afternoon.

Limerick have booked their place in the 2023 Munster Hurling Championship final, as the Shannonsiders secured a one point victory over Cork in a thrilling battle at the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.

Coming into the game, many had described this clash as a “third place playoff” with few predicting Waterford shocking Tipperary in Thurles. But that result essentially turned the Gaelic Grounds tie into a Munster semi-final with the loser eliminated.

And for periods, Limerick were on the verge of expulsion from the championship, but now have a chance to win their fifth Munster title in a row.

Speaking after the match, Kiely revealed how much the win meant to his players.

“This win today has really filled the boys up, coming off the field they were absolutely buzzing with having made it through to another Munster final. Another fantastic milestone for the group to have qualified for their fifth Munster final. It’s a great privilege to be in a Munster final, and we’re thrilled to be there.”

In Kiely’s own words, the game “ebbed and flowed,” with both sides exchanging scores throughout the first half.

On the 20 minute mark, Pat Horgan converted a free for his side, which would stretch Cork’s lead to four points. Just two minutes later, Seamus Flanagan had the ball in the back of the Rebels’ net and the teams were level. Such was the drama of this game, it was back and forth.

Neither team could pull clear for any length of time as Cathal O’Neill superbly slotted a goal in the 30th minute, before Aaron Gillane tagged on two frees to give a three point lead to the Treaty. The Rebels battled back and the sides were level at the half time break.

Much had been made of the physicality of this Cork side, and if they would be able to live with Limerick, but they certainly did in the first half and Kiely was impressed with both teams.

“They were very efficient. I think we had created more scoring chances over the 70 minutes than Cork, but their efficiency was very high. Eighteen scores in the first half from them is very high. We had to try and get on top and dominate. I can only salute the resilience and tenacity of our guys to keep doing the right thing. Even though we had a few wides in that period of time that would have seen us more comfortably across the line, we kept after it. Really proud of the efforts of our lads.”

28 May 2023; Kyle Hayes of Limerick races clear of Luke Meade of Cork during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 5 match between Limerick and Cork at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Limerick started the second half stronger, with Diarmaid Byrnes scoring two points in the opening five minutes. And it was the Patrickswell man who got the third goal for the Shannonsiders, with the half-back firing home from a penalty. This gave Kiely’s men a four point lead, with Cork chasing that gap for the remainder of the game.

But to their credit, Cork battled back, cutting the gap to just a point at one stage. Yet, Limerick would rally back again and keep their lead. Byrnes was sensational, putting up 1-4, all in the second half.

While the Rebels brought it back to one point game, they didn’t have enough in the tank for a finish, as they exited the Munster Championship valiantly.

For Kiely, it was all about survival, but a surprising result in Thurles means his side have reached yet another Munster final.

“All we wanted was to get our win, and get out the gap. We know we’ve been incrementally improving from the Clare game right through to this game. Our improvements have been consistent and considerable. We’re thrilled to have that opportunity to go back to training this week and to push the barriers a bit more again.”

Limerick will meet Clare in the Munster final on June 11 in a repeat of their second round clash and last year’s final. With the venue to be confirmed, it will be an exciting few weeks for both teams involved with Kiely’s side improving week on week.

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