John Kiely: 'Just an awful pity it took so long' to end Limerick's All-Ireland wait

John Kiely: 'Just an awful pity it took so long' to end Limerick's All-Ireland wait
Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates after the game. Photo: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

By Michael Moynihan

Limerick manager John Kiely admitted he “couldn’t block out” thoughts of his county’s defeats in the 1994 and 1996 All-Ireland finals as this year’s decider wore down.

As Galway cut into Limerick’s lead, Kiely admitted:

“I’m not going to lie to you, I was a sub in 1996, on the panel in 1994, and I saw it happen in front of me. I’ve seen it happen in front of my eyes.

“You can’t block it out - you just acknowledge it and park it. Something else will happen to take your mind off it - someone will say something or you’ll notice something yourself and you’ll get distracted from that thought, as it were.

“It’s trying to keep distracted from your thoughts, though that sounds mad. It’s about dealing with what’s in front of you.”

Limerick got a good start in the game but Kiely said he didn’t want to have too big a lead early on in the proceedings.

“We just wanted to get into the game, I didn’t want a big lead early doors because it becomes a weight on you.

“We saw with the eight point lead, it’s an incredible thing when the momentum shifts back to the opposition, it’s so difficult to stunt that momentum and reverse it.

“We spoke about that all year, the need to respond at key moments when things go against you - Richie Hogan’s goal in Thurles, here against Cork when we were six down with eleven minutes left. Something had to happen.

Sometimes when you have a big lead, when it starts to trickle it, the crowd senses the blood . . . we had it ourselves against Cork, we smelt it, ye probably smelt it above. It was slipping a bit.

“It slipped a bit today but we just managed to squeeze enough of a response to hold our ground. “That key ball Tom (Morrissey) caught, the ball Graeme (Mulcahy) won and got a point from - we managed to win just enough balls and to get those shots off to deter Galway and to withstand that onslaught.”

As for ending Limerick’s 45-year wait for the All-Ireland, Kiely said: “It’s just an awful pity it took so long. We had fantastic teams in the eighties, 1980, 1981, 1994, 1996, 2007. Those groups would have fancied themselves other years but you had the knock-out situation. They were great teams, great players, but various bits and pieces didn’t go for them. It’s a pity it took so long.

“I’m delighted to be involved with this group, it’s an honour to be their spokesperson. I never thought, going back over the last seven, ten years, that this is where we’d end up, but someone else had plans.

“We’ve worked extremely hard, the team and management have made massive sacrifices and we’ve got our reward at the end of the day.”

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