Limerick boss John Kiely believes “people need to get real” and understand that Saturday’s comprehensive U21 final victory does not guarantee senior success in the coming years.
The Treaty County failed to build on their U21 three-in-a-row at the turn of the millennium and the man at the head of their latest success says his players will need time to develop and adapt to life at senior level.
“There is no bones about [the potential of this team]. This is an U21 All-Ireland, though. There is a long way between an U21 All-Ireland and a senior All-Ireland,” he asserted. “People need to get real, people need to give these guys and the people who will be over them time to manage them, develop them, allow them to get into the gym for two to three to four years to put on the necessary condition you require to take on Kilkenny and Galway.
“They are a good deal ahead of us at the moment and the boys need time, people need to be realistic. It’s not realistic to expect these lads to move en-masse to a senior set-up and perform and take on senior teams next year. That’s not possible. It should be about speed, development, strength, confidence, hurling ability, keep pushing on and keep trying to win All-Irelands. With time hopefully we’ll get a chance to challenge for a senior All-Ireland. That’s something that’s a little bit off.” Kiely cited the team’s work-rate and their determination to succeed in the air as the most pleasing factors of this near-total performance.
“I thought Wexford were going to bring something to the game that I hadn’t seen from the other teams, in terms of their aerial ability and the directness of their play, and the number of high balls they send into the opposition’s defence.
“Our work-rate was tremendous throughout the field. The half-back line stood up and did their job. We launched our attacks from there.”
Having let slip significant leads approaching half-time in two of their three previous games, the winning manager said the three-points before half-time to open up a seven-point interval cushion were crucial.
“It was very pleasing to come in with a substantial lead as we could then regroup at half-time and say ‘let’s go out and hit the ground running and go again’.
“As the game is going on, you’re just waiting for that moment that’s going to put you under pressure. They got the goal but the manner in which the boys went about getting the next point, was just incredible. At every opportunity, our lads just dropped the shoulder and ran, and there was nothing going to stop them. There was always somebody else on the shoulder waiting for the pass. Everything we had spoken about for weeks and weeks just came off.”
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