Kiely: Defeat to Kilkenny won't define Limerick

Limerick manager John Kiely said he knew straight away that Darragh O’Donovan’s late sideline had taken a deflection off Cillian Buckley’s hurl, but did not criticise the match officials for failing to award a ‘65.

Kiely: Defeat to Kilkenny won't define Limerick

Limerick manager John Kiely said he knew straight away that Darragh O’Donovan’s late sideline had taken a deflection off Cillian Buckley’s hurl, but did not criticise the match officials for failing to award a ‘65.

Limerick sub O’Donovan attempted to provide the equalising score with a 74th-minute sideline cut, but the sliotar went to the right of the Canal End posts after taking a deflection off Buckley’s hurl. The umpire in question signalled for a wide, instead of a ‘65. O’Donovan was irate that no ‘65 was awarded. Referee Alan Kelly sounded the final whistle as the ensuing restart hung in the air.

“We knew straight away. We could see by the flight of the ball. It was taking a certain flight, it changed, it flew off to a different angle,” said Kiely.

“We knew it was after taking a touch, [but] what can we do. The crowd on that side of the field, you could see from their reaction. It was obvious that something had happened and we could see ourselves form the flight of the ball what had happened.”

Limerick’s one-point defeat continues the dreadful All-Ireland semi-final record of Munster championship-winning teams. Since the introduction of the qualifiers in 2002, only Cork in 2005 and Tipperary in 2016 have gone on to lift Liam MacCarthy after success in the southern province.

Kiely was adamant their four-week layoff following the Munster final win was not a factor in a start which saw them trail 1-8 to 0-2 after 18 minutes.

"[The layoff] had no impact. And [we have] no regrets on anything we did. We gave the lads a week off, we trained hard. We were ready for tonight, we were absolutely ready.

Kilkenny brought a ferocious intensity to the first 15 minutes but we responded in kind in the second quarter. We dominated it.

"We felt very comfortable at half-time that we had the resolve to push on in the second-half, but we probably struggled a little bit with our efficiency in front of goals. They had eight wides, we had 15. You only need one of those, but that's just sport.

“When you are 10 points to two down after about 15-17 minutes, you have given yourself a mountain to climb. It took us a while to settle into the game. Kilkenny brought a ferocious intensity to the breaking ball and got a platform that they were very efficient with.

"They gave themselves that bit of a headstart. The challenge from then on was to close that gap.

“We got it down to two, then one, then it went out again to five and that really gave us a massive challenge. We closed it to two again and then got it back to one.

"We were probably looking for that one little opening to come where we could get level. Had we broken that chink and got level, we could possibly have pushed on again but it wasn't to be.”

Declan Hannon’s half-time withdrawal was because of injury, said the Limerick manager. Kiely is confident they will bounce back in 2020.

That defeat won’t define that group. If anything, it will strengthen the resolve of this group to come back again. They are a young bunch. They are very ambitious. They are very united. I’ve no doubt they’ll come back again and they’ll challenge again in the future.

Winning manager Brian Cody described as a “tough call” referee Alan Kelly’s decision to award Limerick a first-half penalty for a Huw Lawlor foul on Aaron Gillane.

"The last day I was in here, the same questions were being asked. It seems to be a recurring theme. Like I said the last day and the previous day again, I'm not going to start discussing referees or whinging about whatever it is, win or lose, because it gets you nowhere.

Tough penalty call? Yeah, I would think so, definitely. I couldn't see it myself and it obviously just rocked us back a bit. You can't change a referee's decision. You keep going, you keep going, and you earn the right to win the game.

Not surprisingly, Cody referenced their blistering start as crucial in returning to a first final since 2016. Next month’s decider will be Cody's 17th All-Ireland final as a manager.

“We started very well and our first 15 minutes was really, really good. That stood to us because every score we got counted in the end.

“The prize is huge – getting to the All-Ireland final. Obviously, we knew the opposition was serious, All-Ireland champions, outstanding champions. We came up here to be competitive, to give ourselves a chance. And we were obviously competitive, but we had to keep it going, grind it out, and to finish ahead at the final whistle is massively satisfying.”

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