Limerick manager, John Kiely, hopes that any lingering suggestions that his side would struggle as a result of their All Ireland winning celebrations will be put to bed following their impressive win over Tipperary in the Allianz Hurling League last night.
Limerick looked by far the fitter team during the first Division 1A game in the Gaelic Grounds in nine seasons, despite having only returned to training a few weeks ago. Kiely maintains that his side are just as hungry for wins now, as they were during last year’s championship.
“They’re incredible lads. We’ve seen it in training, they’re working extremely hard in training, they were bursting to get back training. That question has been put to bed and it’s just a case of drive on now.”
“We’ve still a load of fitness work to do that we normally would have got done in Decemeber which we didn’t this year so we’ve a tough two weeks ahead of us.”
The sides were very evenly matched in the first half, a superb goal from Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher gave the visitors a slight advantage until Graeme Mulcahy took advantage of an out-of-position goalkeeper to rattle the Tipperary net.
However, Liam Sheedy’s side couldn’t match Limerick’s work-rate in the second half, and with Tipperary hitting a number of wides, Kiely’s men sailed to a 1-21 to 1-14 win.
The Limerick manager is delighted that his side made home advantage count.
“You don’t know what they’ve been doing this week, whether they’ve had two tough sessions or three, you don’t know what’s going on. Listen, we’re at home and home advantage has to count. You’ve to make it count and that’s fierce important.
“That’s the first Division 1A game in Limerick in nine seasons, we worked hard enough to win it, as in to be there in 1A. It wouldn’t be worth anything if we didn’t turn up and put in a decent performance, would it? The result wasn’t necessarily the be all and end all but the performance was important.”
While a number of fringe players were given their opportunity in a starting position last night in front of a sizeable crowd, it was the performance of league debutant, Conor Boylan, that caught the eye with the Na Piarsaigh man scoring two points from play.
“Delighted with Conor’s performance. There was probably a bit of pressure on him coming into the game and I thought he handled it very well.
“He was patient. It would have been a big step up from him to get to that intensity, because there was huge intensity, especially in the first half, and I thought he handled it very well, got some great ball, broke tackles, laid off passes, got a score, he did very well.”