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No supporters but championship buzz persists for Kiely & Limerick

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*Limerick senior hurling manager, John Kiely. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

High-scoring trends will become a pattern of the 2020 inter-county championships, Limerick manager John Kiely expects.

Speaking following the Treaty County’s 0-36 1-23 win over Clare, the All-Ireland winning manager indicated that the championship buzz was felt by members of the Limerick set-up despite crowds being absent for their quarter-final win. “The buzz was there this morning, we could all feel it, more so today than ever because we realised how privileged we were to have an opportunity to play. Everything was as normal apart from the fact that there was nobody here, the nerves, the excitement, the anticipation of what you might not have thought of that might happen, the players will still be much more satisfied as individuals on both cases because they got to play this game today.

“I’m sure the people at home got enjoyment of being able to sit down at home and be able to watch a championship match, especially the older people in the population, they would have taken great solace of being able to watch their team and other teams play. My own parents will be watching games every Saturday and Sunday, it is absolutely worth it, unfortunately it has to be the way it is. Who knows in December things might be better, we’ve seen great improvement in the reproductive rate, the hospitalisations are down, a slight drop in intensive care, there are lots of factors beginning to turn in all of our favours and hopefully in two weeks we’ll be in a better place again”.

Kiely’s management team which includes Shannon’s Alan Cunningham and Aonghus O’Brien of Broadford identified their lack of intensity and use of the ball as areas that needed addressing at half-time. “At half-time I was not the best pleased with the level of intensity we brought to the game, our use of the ball, we weren’t on the money at that stage and I would have been concerned because give it fifteen or twenty minutes and you expect to find your rhythm, at that stage Clare were after bouncing back with three points before the break to bring it to 0-15 apiece, we had gone 0-15 0-12 up and should have pushed on but it went the other way around”.

He stated, “We addressed those concerns at half-time and got the first five scores after the break, that gave us a good platform and our hurling was a lot crisper and sharper, our support runners were coming and we put ball through the hand very quickly and finding our men in the forwards with the ball with space and our accuracy was good in the second half and our boys made an impact off the bench”.

Following the first weekend of the hurling championship, the secondary school principal believed high-scoring and the influence of puckouts will be key patterns of the delayed 2020 campaign. “Trends will emerge, after a few weeks we will see what is happening. The puckouts are an issue because they are coming very fast and maybe if a full stadium the referee needs to buy themselves time before they blow the whistle and here they can scan and take everything in much easier so as a result the puckout comes faster, I know he blew Clare up for quick puckouts at some stage but they were very quick. I think we will end up with the ball in play a lot longer during the course of the game and quicker resets. If you look at all the other sports, soccer in particular the scoring has gone up in those sports, maybe it will be a trend in hurling, maybe there is less pressure on the player”.

Securing back to back league titles is a feat appreciated by the Galbally man and members of the Limerick panel. “I am glad that we saw out the League and took that League title, we spent nine years languishing in 1B blaming everything and anything bar the fact we couldn’t get out of there, we always put a lot of stead on the League since we came together as a group and for us to win back to back titles is a significant achievement regardless of the manner in which it finished”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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