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Kevin Downes

Kevin Downes

Na Piarsaigh 'headache' for Limerick manager John Kiely


John Harrington

Kevin Downes says he and the rest of the Na Piarsaigh contingent on the Limerick panel will have to be ‘chomping at the bit’ in order to force their way into manager John Kiely’s plans once their club campaign is over.

Na Piarsaigh play reigning champions Cuala in the AIB All-Ireland Club SHC Final on St. Patrick’s Day so their county players may not get the chance to play any League games with Limerick between now and the Championship if the Shannonsiders do not qualify for the League semi-finals.

In that scenario they wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to force their way into Kiely’s plans ahead of Limerick’s first Munster Championship match against Tipperary on May 20.

“Yeah there's 10 of us there involved so in lots of ways it's a headache for John Kiely,” said Downes.

“I'm sure he's delighted to have a Limerick team above in Croke Park when there's an All-Ireland final, but it's very difficult for him and us having so many there that aren't involved in the panel.

“Then we'll come back after St Patrick's Day and it's a short enough window to championship then especially with the club's month as it is in April so it's going to be difficult.

“How it's going to pan out I'm not too sure but once the club thing is over we'll have to go back and try to hit the ground running.

“They're in good form at the moment so we'll have to be chomping at the bit and try and stake our claim when we're back in the short window we have.”

Limerick hurling is in rude health at all levels of the game right now.

Ard Scoil Rís recently won their fifth Harty Cup in nine years, Na Piarsaigh are going for a second All-Ireland title in three years, the county has won two of the last three All-Ireland U-21 titles, and John Kiely’s senior team have won all four of their League mates so far this year and will be crowned Allianz League Division 1B champions if they beat Galway on Sunday.

From top to bottom, it looks like Limerick hurling is strong and getting stronger all the time.

“Yeah I think so,” agreed Downes. “Even going to league games this year and looking at the way they're (the county senior team) playing there seems to be a great system of play there at the moment.

“Everyone seems to know their role and performances have been very good. They're unbeaten in the league and it's set up for a big one against Galway on Sunday.

“Definitely, things seem to be there with Ard Scoil Ris, with the U21 successes, even going back to the U21 success in Munster in 2011, and ourselves winning it in 2016 and winning a couple of Munsters, Kilmallock have won a couple of Munster clubs, so things should be there.

“There has to be a group of players there and enough talent to be able to do something. It's a case of getting this together, getting the right balance and getting a couple of wins.

“You can see the wins in the league breeds a bit of confidence and belief, it backs up everything you're doing in training and makes going back training the next week that bit easier so it definitely fills you with a bit of belief.

“Things seem to be going in the right direction and it's a very good set-up there with John (Kiely) and Paul Kinnerk doing the training so things seem to be there, it's only up to the players to produce it.” 

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