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Limerick selector Paul Kinnerk pictured at the launch of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic.
Limerick selector Paul Kinnerk pictured at the launch of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic.

Paul Kinnerk relishing Limerick role

By Cian O'Connell

Timing carries a deep meaning in sport. So when Paul Kinnerk was beginning to forge a reputation for himself as a Limerick footballer injury struck, but other coaching doors started to open.

The former Clare hurler Sean Stack was struck by Kinnerk's sporting interest and the Limerick native started assisting a talented Sixmilebridge Under 21 outfit.

"Football would've been my number one even though I would've played hurling for my club and the county up until minor, but football then took over and I had a heap of injuries around 21 and 24 and that ruled me out for a while," Kinnerk, who has now trained Clare and Limerick to All Ireland glory, recalls how his own coaching journey commenced. 

"It just so happened I was teaching in Shannon at the time with famous Clare hurler Sean Stack and I got involved with him with Sixmilebridge with the Under 21 team and things went well, we won a Championship. 

"I then got involved in the Clare minors and this happened between 2008-2010 when I was injured so all of a sudden I was on board a train if you like.

Kinnerk, though, is quick to acknowledge how Maurice Horan accommodated him.

"When I came back to go playing in 2011 I was lucky enough to have a very understanding senior manager, Maurice Horan, who was over Limerick at the time who facilitated my dual role as a player and as a coach," Kinnerk adds. 

"I adopted that dual role for 3 or 4 years, it was demanding obviously, but fairly enjoyable, that's how it happened from there. I got on a train and it was very hard to get off it."

Clare underage and senior teams benefitted from Kinnerk's expertise and his own county Limerick hoisted the Liam MacCarthy Cup last month.

Did Kinnerk envisage Limerick making such rapid progress? "Without sounding cliched you do try to set small goals, that wouldn't really have come into it," Kinnerk says. 

"We would have taken it game by game and phase by phase. Obviously as a Limerickman it would have been a dream for that to happens since I got involved in coaching one of the goals I would have set out to achieve. To achieve it has been incredible, it hasn't hit home yet."

John Kiely's cocktail of passion and purpose impressed Kinnerk. "John as a manager has all the traits you want to see in terms of the leadership qualities he brings, the organisational qualities," Kinnerk remarks. 

"Then he has got the X factor in terms of his ability to just deal with people. He has that from being a principal, from being a father, knowing when to hit the right notes with certain players, and how to manage certain situations. 

"He just has that innate ability to manage situations, he obviously has a great hurling brain and tactical mind as well. Just a great guy to be around, that is the biggest thing."