John Kiely braced for step into the unknown with Shannonsiders

Limerick manager John Kiely admits to “a certain amount of trepidation” ahead of the new-look Munster senior hurling championship.

The Shannonsiders host Tipperary on Sunday with games against Cork (June 2), Waterford (June 10), and Clare (June 17) filling Kiely’s diary.

It’s a step into the unknown for all sides, given the quick turnaround between matches, and Kiely is preaching a “one game at a time” mantra.

“We are looking forward to it but obviously with a certain amount of trepidation as well, because we don’t know what’s going to transpire,” said Kiely who guided his team to promotion to Division 1A earlier in the spring.

I’m sure there will be a lot of challenges along the way but for the moment we will just take it one step at a time and focus on the Tipperary game. We have had two weeks of good work done and the lads are in really great shape.

“We are really looking forward to it.”

Limerick lost to Tipperary in the league semi-final but Kiely isn’t losing any sleep over that statistic.

“Each game takes on a life of its own. This is the opening game in the Munster championship, we are on our home turf and we aren’t going to give up our winning record at home too easily.

“Having said that, Tipperary are a formidable outfit. They are a fine team. They have a good record in the Munster championship in recent years and have ambitions to go right to the end of this championship series.

It’s a formidable challenge but that’s why we are involved in the game and we are looking forward to taking on that challenge.

One of the most impressive factors of Limerick’s progression so far in 2018 has been the introduction of new talents like Seamus Flanagan, Barry Murphy, and Aaron Gillane in attack, while Sean Finn has impressed further back the field.

Kiely agreed: “We have given a few more lads opportunities to put their hand up. It’s very competitive at the moment.

“In our training games you can see that there is a real struggle going on with guys fighting for places.

“That’s a really healthy place for the group to be in. More of that is what we want, really. We’re not short of options.

“Those lads have had their hands on the jersey and have looked after it when they have had it. They will have it until somebody else puts their hand up in such a way as to say ‘listen, I can do it better’. That’s the way it is.”

Before that extra-time league semi-final defeat in Thurles, Limerick were unbeaten this spring and Kiely is hoping that the confidence gained from those victories will be transferred to the championship.

The players would have learned an awful lot right throughout the league. There was an incremental step up in the games and they are all great experiences for the players that they can draw on, they can take an awful lot of confidence from.

“The bottom line is that all these players consider themselves good enough to be on this team and that’s the way it is. Trying to manage that is obviously a challenge for us as a management team but you have to go on form.

“You have to go on what we have been doing to date and I’m sure things will evolve further over the course of the championship.”

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