*Limerick manager, John Kiely. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
“A cracking game of hurling” was how Limerick manager John Kiely described the latest meeting of Clare and Limerick in the Munster senior hurling championship.
Speaking on Sunday in Cusack Park, the All-Ireland winning boss was very frustrated with the decision that led to Limerick finishing with fourteen players due to the dismissal of Gearoid Hegarty.
“Both sides really went at it, there was a huge intensity to the game, it ebbed and flowed in terms of who was in the ascendancy. All told I would be really happy with the performance of the lads. They really ground it out, kept their composure and found the way to find the score we needed in the last few minutes and were probably a bit unlucky not to retain another possession and get a shot off to win it. All told it was a cracking game and we are happy with the performance”. he said.
A repeat pairing in the Munster Final at the beginning of June is something to look forward to, he noted. “If it’s anything like today’s game it will be a great game of hurling, that was a fantastic game with some great scores by both teams, some lovely passages of play put together by both teams. We are really proud of our guys, we have had a tough couple of weeks with different injuries and different knocks. It was great to see the lads taking their opportunities and we are very very happy with that”.
Kiely wasn’t as happy about the sending off of Gearoid Hegarty and he made it quite clear that the decision will be challenged. “We have watched it back on the tape and it’s quite clear there is no contact. A player basically just grabbed his stomach and threw himself on the ground, there was no contact. It was much adieu about nothing at the end of the day, a card we expect to rescind completely”.
The Limerick boss continued, “there is a narrative there at the moment that Gearoid is playing on the edge or doing X, Y and Z and its feeding into people’s decision making right now. It needs to stop because its going to have a big impact. It’s just disappointing when you see a player doing that. It was a great game with a lot of physicality, it was a tremendous contest and this decision was really disappointing, there was nothing there, we have seen the video footage and it’s there for everyone to see. At the end of the day it should not take from the overall game which was a cracking game of hurling”.
Asked if there was a danger that it will feed into the mentality of a player Kiely responded, “we will be guarding against that. Gearoid is a very honest player just like all the rest of the players we have. They work extremely hard, they are very focussed on getting their tackles in, trying to get the ball and kill the ball. Gearoid is a very experienced player at this stage and he is well able to cope with that attention and the expectation that might be out there”.
As for the contributions of Tony Kelly and Diarmaid Byrnes, the respective top scorers on the day, he said, “they gave two outstanding performances from placed balls and had some good scores from play as well, hats off to them, they put in a cracking performance today and more power to them”.