John Kiely delighted with Limerick's resilience
By Cian O’Connell
Under the gleaming Croke Park floodlights as the ground staff cared to the pitch, Limerick manager John Kiely tried to find the words to reflect on a second successful All Ireland SHC semi-final in three years.
These really are encouraging times for the green and white brigade, but the resilience demonstrated when Galway came thundering back late on delighted Kiely.
“When things aren't coming as easy as you'd like them to come, sometimes that can be the day you back off it and accept that it isn't happening for you,” Kiely remarked to the assembled media in the Hogan Stand.
“That you are finding it too difficult, but the boys just embraced that challenge, embraced the difficulty, they tried to figure out the solutions to the problems. They just kept fighting, fighting, and fighting. The boys that came off the bench had a huge impact in the last 15 or 20 minutes.”
It was close, keenly contested, and hard fought, but the fact Limerick were still standing at the end mattered deeply to Kiely.
“Yes, but at least we got out on the right side of it as it was a tough battle,” Kiely commented. “It was a really tough battle, very physical.
“We mightn't have got off to a very fluid start, we still created a few chances alright. A few handling errors and bits and pieces. We were just a bit nervy maybe.
“Once we settled into it midway through the first half we got into a good rhythm, we clawed back that bit of a lead Galway had. It was nip and tuck for long periods of the game, but very satisfied with the performance.”
Galway led by 0-7 to 0-2 early on, but Limerick finished the opening period very strongly, drilling 11 points after the first quarter.
“Coming into that water break we were getting a bit more rhythm,” Kiely admitted. “We probably would have preferred to let it keep going, we felt we were getting into it at that stage, we were finding our range.
“So maybe some of this is co-incidental at times that a water break comes just after getting a foothold in the game.”
At the interval, considering Limerick had thundered back into the game, what was the Limerick message?
“I suppose we were looking to maybe build again on what happened in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the first half, trying to build on that and get into that rhythm again and try and raise the intensity levels a bit further if we could,” Kiely replied.
“That was a real challenge, I don’t know what the final tally was in terms of our work-rate, but I know the boys worked extremely hard and they were made work extremely hard for every single ball they got.
“Galway were very firm in the tackle, they didn’t allow us to break the tackle too often and I think our boys showed great resilience on a night when maybe things were going completely according to plan, they dug in and refused to be beaten tonight.
“I think it was just a sheer refusal to be beaten; that under in no circumstances no matter what happened, they weren't going to be beaten tonight.”