John Kiely satisfied with special Limerick success
By Cian O'Connell
John Kiely cut a satisfied figure following another dramatic Limerick Championship win at Croke Park.
A first All Ireland title since 1973 was secured by Limerick with Kiely acknowledging the fact the green and white victory was coated in character.
"It's surreal," Kiely stated. "I have a real feeling someone is going to shake me and wake me, that it hasn't all been a crazy dream. But I think the fact of the result, that it was hard-earned makes it all the more special.
"We withstood that onslaught that came, not in the first 20 minutes, but in the last 20 minutes. The storm was a little late, but God, it was tough."
Kiely was delighted by the passion and purpose shown by Limerick's players during a game that concluded in a welter of excitement.
"Only these lads know how tough it was, they were winning those vital balls at vital stages, the closing minutes," Kiely reflected.
"But I think overall it was a good performance. We started really well and we had a really good run in over these last few weeks and it went well for us. I knew coming into the stadium that everything had gone well, the lads knew that as well, they were very relaxed.
"We had some craic coming up on the train, and in the hotel before we came in."
A solid Limerick start pleased Kiely, who also praised Galway's resilience in the closing stages. "We did what we needed to do," Kiely added. "There was no mystery about it. There was no tactical conundrum that we had to solve, it was wanting it badly enough and waiting until the time came to engage with the battle.
"We did that well. We had a good first half, probably should have put away a few more scores, but we said that too in the dressing room beforehand, there was going to be wides and sure, you have to keep going to the next shot, keep hitting them, don't hold back, just keep hitting the shots.
"It was a tough stretch for us and a plot of hard balls had to be won and we showed remarkable composure to withstand that onslaught. They made a few changes and they were fresh, they took the game to us and hats off to Galway for that."
How did Kiely feel when Joe Canning stood over a late free for Galway, who had summoned a remarkable rally.
"I was calm now to be honest with you," Kiely replied. "I was really calm. But sure, he has done it on so many days for Galway. I don't think anybody would cast any aspersions on him. He has been a phenomenal hurler, a phenomenal leader. Just an incredible hurler, one for the ages and I don't think anyone should hold that shot against him, that's for sure."