John Kiely has described the prospect of managing the Limerick senior hurlers for the next three years as “a huge honour”, writes Jackie Cahill.
Former senior selector Kiely was confirmed as Garryspillane club-mate TJ Ryan’s successor when county board delegates rubber-stamped his appointment on Tuesday night.
Kiely guided the Limerick U21s to All-Ireland glory last year and worked alongside manager John Allen when the seniors stormed to Munster success in 2013.
In July, Kiely insisted that the then vacant post was ‘not on his radar’ but he explained last night that there was a reason for distancing himself from the county’s top position at the time.
Kiely said: “I’ve been involved in seven of the last eight years at some level or other, between intermediate, U21 and senior.
“As time went by, the possibility of doing this particular role grew in the back of my head.
“I did keep my cards very close to my chest right through the process.
“There was enough of speculation and so if you put your name out there that you’re interested or want to be involved, it creates a difficult arena and I didn’t want that to happen.”
Congratulations to John Kiely on his appointment as Limerick manager,wishing him and his back room team every success from the bouncers— Garryspillane GAA (@GarryspillaneGA) September 13, 2016
Kiely, principal at the Abbey CBS in Tipperary town, is confident that he can successfully juggle his professional commitments with his new Limerick role.
He said: “Listen, I’ve been doing it for the last two years with the U21s.
“I know it’s a different ball game with the seniors but it’s what I do and what I’ve always been doing.
“Looking after teams is what I love doing. I will continue with my role here in the school and we have a fantastic group here who manage the school with me, and the staff.
“We’ll just have to juggle it and make the time. It’s a big commitment but I have support from home and the school in taking on this role.”
Kiely has also called for patience from Limerick supporters as he settles into the role alongside coach Paul Kinnerk, strength and conditioning expert Joe O’Connor and selector Jimmy Quilty.
Another selector will come on board in due course and Kiely said: “All we would ask of the Limerick supporters out there is that they would support the team as best they can and in particular, by coming to the games.
“We’re committed to a three-year process and while things won’t happen overnight, we will do everything in our power to put together the best group of players and create the best environment for them to be successful.
“It’s a huge honour, no doubt about that and it doesn’t matter when you get this role, it still carries the same responsibilities and respect no matter what.
“I’m absolutely thrilled but I’m not blind to the fact that it’s going to be a major challenge in our lives.
“As Limerick hurling people, we want to see Limerick compete at the highest possible level.
“I’m very much looking forward to getting on with the job, meeting the players and assembling our panel for next year. We’re operating from a blank canvass and building our panel as we see fit ourselves.”
Next year will be Limerick’s seventh outside the top flight in the Allianz Hurling League as they prepare for another season in Division 1B.
But Kiely, a member of the Limerick panel that contested the 1996 All-Ireland senior final, insisted: “We haven’t given any consideration to any goals of any description yet.
“That process will take place in the month ahead, when we sit down as a management team, speak with the players and listen to what they have to say. They’ll have an input in setting the goals and targets that we want to achieve.”
And Kiely expressed his satisfaction with the backroom members already in place – as Limerick native Kinnerk joins from Clare to join O’Connor, who was on board with TJ Ryan last year.
Kiely said: “Paul brings a wealth of experience from his time in Clare and he’s going to be hugely important to us, in terms of the hurling side of things. Joe has been involved with Limerick in recent times and that continuity will be important.”
Kinnerk and O’Connor were key members of Davy Fitzgerald’s All-Ireland winning backroom team of 2013 and Kiely acknowledged: “They’ve worked together before, which is a huge plus. That will allow us to shorten the settling in period.”