“We just want to keep improving week to week” | John Kiely clear on his focus as League final awaits Limerick

Limerick’s reward for the victory is a place in the league final for the first time in three years where they will meet Kilkenny in a rematch of last year’s All-Ireland final.

There were shades of 2021 from Limerick’s National League semi-final victory on Saturday evening with the Shannonsiders overturning a half-time deficit against Tipperary.

The turnaround wasn’t as dramatic as the Munster final from two years ago but the similarities were there as Tipp couldn’t live with Limerick when they hit top gear.

Trailing by four at the break, Limerick had that wiped out ten minutes after the restart when Aaron Gillane fired over his fifth in a run of five Limerick scores with John Kiely alluding to the uptake in intensity after the turn of ends.

“I think we kind of went at it in the second half, the response from the lads in the first 15 minutes was really really strong.

“We rose the intensity was we got to the we got to the pitch of the game we were getting to the ball either first or at least with the other the opposition so you know we weren’t doing that in the first half and we needed to get to the pitch of the game and get to the pitch of the ball and once we got there some started getting the ball to ground or else winning it clean ourself, we were able to have some possession that we could use we just didn’t have enough possession in the first time half.”

Once Diarmaid Byrnes had Limerick in the lead in the 45th minute, the result was rarely in doubt with the Shannonsiders playing the kind of hurling that has seen them become invincible in the championship over the past three years.

Still, as they did against Cork, Clare and Galway already this year, Limerick tailed off in the final exchanges with Tipperary putting more respectability on the scoreline towards the closing stages with Kiely highlighting the work that needs doing.

“I think we could have still got a bit more out of it. We left in a few soft scores in the last 10/15 minutes that we’d like to prevent but Tipperary are a class side, they’ve got some fantastic Hurlers and we had worked extremely hard at that stage just to get ourselves back into the game and get ourselves ahead so you know we were going to make some mistakes and inevitably that happens.

17 July 2022; Gearóid Hegarty of Limerick scores his side’s first goal during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Limerick’s reward for the victory is a place in the league final for the first time in three years where they will meet Kilkenny in a rematch of last year’s All-Ireland final.

The Shannonsiders final opponent was unknown at the conclusion of their semi-final with Kilkenny defeating Cork the following afternoon.

But with both potential finalists in good form in the group stages of the league, either was going to be a tough proposition in a fortnight’s time.

“One thing we know, it’s going to be a really tough game and from our point of view it’s something for us to work towards now over the next two weeks.”

And Kiely is pleased with the make up of the squad as they prepare for the final league game prior to the defence of their Munster title with serious selection headaches for the Galbally native to consider.

“It’s not over yet, there’s a bit to go. We just want to keep improving week to week that’s where our focus is at. The next two weeks, we’re going to see if we can try and just raise the bar a little bit further you know for ourselves. Hopefully the competitiveness within the group, I think a lot of lads have really put their hand up there now tonight for that second half performance and that’s only going to be good from a competitive perspective in terms of team selection for the next day.”

Limerick will face Kilkenny in the National Hurling League final on April 9 in Pairc Ui Chaoimh with their Munster Championship opener against Waterford fixed for April 23 in Semple Stadium.

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