Friday 22 September 2017

'There were quite a number in the crowd who were extremely abusive'

Treaty hurling boss John Kiely tells Colm Keys some supporters have gone too far

New Limerick hurling manager John Kiely. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
New Limerick hurling manager John Kiely. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

New Limerick hurling manager John Kiely has urged those who were "abusive" towards the team on the day that they shipped seven goals to Cork in a Munster league match last month to stay away.

Limerick recovered from the defeat to meet Cork in the final - where they lost by just a point - but Kiely is keen for that abuse, which was a recurring theme for his predecessor TJ Ryan as well, not to take root.

"We have great support in Limerick, huge support in terms of numbers, but they can be rather impatient at times and maybe lack a bit of perspective on where things are at," he said.

"That day against Cork in the Munster league, there were quite a number of people in the crowd who were extremely abusive. It was not at all appropriate that players be treated like that, given the amount of time and effort and work they put in on the pitch and off the pitch.

"That is not something we would like to see again. We have a lot of decent people involved in hurling in Limerick, and if there are people out there that aren't behind the team, we would rather they stayed away.

"And we would like to see the people who are real, true hurling people in Limerick step up and follow the team through thick and thin, through good and bad, support the players and acknowledge their efforts."

Kiely is unsure what effect the abuse might have on a squad whose average age, he said at yesterday's Allianz Hurling League launch, was just 21.3.

"These lads are young, so we would hope that they would listen to the people that matter within our own group and they would be able to put those comments and those remarks, outside of the group, to one side and not let it affect them.

"That's fine for us and the players because we are in our own group, but for family and friends in the stands, it is very difficult for them to take."

Kiely stressed that the vast majority of Limerick supporters were fanatical and positive, pointing to the "groundswell" after the 2013 Munster final in the Gaelic Grounds and the 2015 All-Ireland U-21 final in Thurles.

"They are very small in number (abusive supporters) and I would hope that the true supporters would stand up to these people and tell them that this is not appropriate and not something they should have to entertain in the crowd either."

Kiely is adamant that promotion from Division 1B, where Limerick have been parked for the last seven seasons, will not consume them.

The Limerick County Board has talked of the financial benefits of climbing to the top tier consistently, but Kiely appeared unmoved by that sentiment. "The County Board doesn't set the agenda as regards this management team.

"Obviously we want to be as successful as we can, but there is no deadline. There is a very real understanding of what needs to be done for us to become more competitive, but there are no clear-cut goals set down by us or the Board."

Kiely confirmed that rising star Barry Nash - Man of the Match in that U-21 final win 18 months ago - had left the panel in recent days, but the door has been left open for a return.

"He won't be the last," said Kiely. "It was his decision, his decision to withdraw, but it is still early in our preparations.

"It is only 12 weeks into what will hopefully be a three-year term, so it is very early doors. I have no doubt that Barry will have a major part to play in the years ahead. Who knows, maybe even at some point later this year he may find himself in a position to return to training."

Kiely is hopeful Sean Finn can resume playing matches after a cruciate ligament injury last year, but Gavin O'Mahony is out with a broken thumb and Tom Condon is a doubt with a rib injury for Sunday's encounter with Wexford.

Irish Independent

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