Wednesday 18 September 2019

Kiely: The past is the past, all these boys can influence is their own destiny

John Kiely doesn’t believe history will influence the outcome on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile
John Kiely doesn’t believe history will influence the outcome on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

IT may be his first time to sample All-Ireland final day as a manager but John Kiely has plenty of experience as a player.

Having been on the extended Limerick panel for the 1994 decider and on the substitutes' bench two years later, the 46-year-old knows what his Treaty troops are going through ahead of Sunday's final against reigning kingpins Galway.

One thing he won't be referring to is Limerick's history of final defeats (1974, '80, '94, '96 and '07) since they last reached the pinnacle in 1973 however, as he feels it will bear no significance on events in Croke Park this weekend.

"It's just a statistic. It's just a fact. These boys could do nothing about anything that happened before them so all they can influence is their own destiny, their own performance. And sure, it just has no relevance to them," Kiely said.

"There is no tangible link that you could possibly create that would link the past with this group. So it's all about getting their performance right, getting their preparation right. And trying to reap some reward for all the hard work that they've put in."

Having guided Limerick to All-Ireland U-21 success in 2015 and been immersed in Treaty hurling at a variety of grades over the previous decade, the Galbally native was the obvious choice to replace TJ Ryan at the outset of the 2017 season.

It's a "huge honour and privilege" to be in the position considering he admits he doesn't come from "a hurling background" and his home at the foot of the Galtee Mountains is a "football heartland".

The Abbey CBS principal in Tipperary town knew the raw materials he had to work with and name-checks important personal traits of "resilience, determination, never-say-die attitude and work ethic", which he quickly recognised.

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Last season was a year of learning for all involved as they bedded in new players and strategies and as early as their second league game this year against Offaly - where they dished out a 17-point spanking - he felt something special was brewing.

"Above in Offaly I just got that feeling that day that there was an extra spark there. From that game onwards we grew in confidence from game to game," he said.

"When you have confidence, and you have the work done on the training pitch, you know there is a chance to at least give yourself the opportunity to win matches.

"And we'd a lot of work done. It wasn't like we'd had a terrible season in 2017. OK, the results didn't go our way and we didn't get good championship performances. Six-out-of-10 performances. But we knew if we got it up another notch or two we could have been very competitive. During the course of the league we felt momentum building."

Kiely was an interested spectator in Thurles two weeks ago at the "intriguing" Galway-Clare replay - in search of valuable nuggets about their final opponents as he looks to plot the downfall of the Tribesmen's back-to-back bid.

The sides already met in this year's league, where Kiely's charges came from nine down to secure a famous win and help earn promotion, but that will have "no bearing" on the decider as they pit their wits against hurling's "standard-bearers".

"We know what Galway are at. We've seen them for the last five years. They're a really powerful unit. They haven't lost a championship game this year - eight matches unbeaten," he said.

"Went through last year's league, Leinster Championship and All-Ireland series unbeaten. They are the form horse. They are the standard-bearers in hurling in the country at the moment. It's great for us to stack up against them and see where it takes us."

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