“We found a way to win” | John Kiely praises Limerick’s resilience

A Munster championship described as “arduous” by John Kiely pushed his players to their absolute limits.

2023 was the first year in a long time that there were question marks over the desire of the Limerick hurlers. After wining it all, including the League in the spring, a couple of below par performance in the Munster championship saw many question the juggernaut.

Had the desire and workrate that brought with it unprecedented success ran out? Facing Cork in a do or die round robin game, Limerick flashed back into gear, staving off the challenge of a quality Rebel outfit.

Again they were pushed by Clare in the decider but having come through that contest to complete a five in a row in the province, Kiely’s men roared into life on Jones Road which culminated in another All-Ireland title.

23 July 2023; Limerick captain Cian Lynch lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A Munster championship described as “arduous” by John Kiely pushed his players to their absolute limits.

Despite the intense scrutiny the players were under, they managed to turn over Clare on Munster final day, and the four week break that earned them proved to be pivotal in igniting their All-Ireland charge.

Following the break, Kiely’s men came steaming into the semi-final with Galway, and they produced a breath-taking second half display against Kilkenny in the decider.

The side was no doubt rejuvenated following the intensity of the Munster championship, and Kiely believes that after the “breather” they were able to “push on.”

“There were times during the year when we were really under the cosh and in some matches, the games could have gone against us. In Munster there was a huge challenge brought our way but we kept battling and we found a way to get a win or draw, get something out of them.

Once we got out of Munster, it gave us the chance to get in a bit of work, get a bit of freshness and we got stronger. Once we got the breather after the Munster championship, we were able to push on from there.”

Kiely is the longest serving manager in the country, at the helm since 2016, and what the Galbally native has achieved is remarkable.

23 July 2023; Limerick manager John Kiely lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after his side’s victory in the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Despite coming into the tie with four All-Ireland wins under their belt since 2018, Kiely spoke of his desire to get the win yesterday “for the lads.”

“I really wanted this for the lads, really really wanted. They’re an incredible bunch, there is never a night at training where they don’t deliver everything in the tank. I wanted this for them, I wanted them to achieve this.

“You’re never going to know if you’re going to get a chance like this again.”

Four Liam MacCarthy cups in a row, and a fifth in the last six years. Add them to the five successive Munster titles in a row, and you can’t help but be amazed at the job Kiely has done.

He will be slow to take much credit for it, but his role in this success story is unquestioned. Everything you see in this Limerick comes from him, the players encapsulate everything their manager is about.

Hunger, desire, the will to win, Kiely is one of the greatest managers we have ever seen.

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