“Half-time, we were very worried. We were after playing with the breeze and were two-points down,” remarked Kiely. “We made one swap at half-time. Tom Morrissey came out to the half-forward line and Ronan Lynch went inside. That was an important move. Tom got going outside and Ronan got going inside.
“Ronan is a great young lad. He is the first to training every night, he is the first on the field for half an hour beforehand taking frees. Against the breeze in the second-half, just like the last day against Tipperary, it suited us. We played the ball through the hand. We drew frees. We rose to the game, we rose to the occasion.”
With the county’s senior, minor and intermediate teams having all exited the championship in recent weeks, Kiely described the win over Clare as a “huge lift for Limerick hurling”.
“This is huge, we needed something after the year we had. It hasn’t been a great year. Silverware is scarce and hard to get. There are a lot of good teams out there and if you are going to win something, you have got to be at your level best every night you go out. We brought it to the table tonight.”
Kiely continued: “Without a shadow of a doubt that was a special victory. Coming down here you knew we were going to be put to the pin of our collar. Clare have been the ambassadors for U21 hurling over the last three years. They have won Munster and All Ireland titles. Regardless of lads moving on, they were always going to be a threat. I knew they had loads of legs as well. They were very fast.
“In the second half, the lads really got going. The backs were out in front and were tenacious in the tackle. Once or twice Clare looked like getting a goal, but each time we brought it out or forced them to take a point. Had Clare got a goal, it would have been massive for them.
“Pat Ryan was great on the wing in the second half, Diarmuid Byrnes made loads of bursts too. They are a fantastic bunch of lads. They are so full of heart.”