Tony Considine: John Kiely and Limerick deserve massive credit but hurling has gone a bit boring

Champions were worthy winners but the sport has serious issues
Tony Considine: John Kiely and Limerick deserve massive credit but hurling has gone a bit boring

Kyle Hayes of Limerick lifts the sliotar as he races clear of Neil Montgomery of Waterford. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

I FIRST met John Kiely 15 years ago when he was part of a team I was managing, Garryspillane.

John was a very good club player, but the one thing noticeable was he always prepared very well and got the best out of himself. A player you could really depend on, no airs or graces, just pure honesty.

This is something he has carried into management too. He is well organised, intelligent, and above all, completely honest at all times.

You can see his imprint all over this Limerick team: work-rate, trust in one another and unity of purpose. 

This All-Ireland was his greatest victory.

He had his team well prepared and focused with savage intensity and ruthlessness in their approach in everything they did. This is not something that happens by chance. This takes a lot of hard work and discipline by everyone involved.

And it all starts with the manager.

Limerick manager John Kiely. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Limerick manager John Kiely. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Limerick never looked in trouble on Sunday. They were dominant all over the pitch. Their half-back line completely on top, especially Diarmuid Byrnes and of course Kyle Hayes popping up all over the place, attacking Waterford every chance he got.

Very dominant physically, they built a wall that Waterford could not get past.

And of course, with Tom Morrissey and Gearóid Hegarty available at all times to take on the Waterford defence, this is where Limerick really dominated. The tally of 0-12 between these two players tells its own tale. And all from play.

But I think Waterford were far too loose on these two. Not alone did they get the freedom of Croke Park, they got the freedom of Dublin. Waterford were forewarned, but did nothing about it.

You just can't leave two players of this calibre loose in any game let alone an All-Ireland final. Waterford paid a heavy price.

The management of the Waterford team will have to take some blame here, marking is crucial. Maybe they call it 'picking up players' now but Waterford did neither.

I know they lost Tadhg de Búrca early on, and he was a big loss, but he wasn't marking either Hegarty or Morrissey. Those jobs went to Keven Moran and Calum Lyons, but they did not perform them very well. To be fair, they got very little help from their midfielders and this gave Limerick a free run around this area and they capitalised fully.

Since 2015 Waterford have lost three Munster finals, two national league finals, and two All-Ireland finals. That in itself tells you something. Have Waterford got the mentality for the big day?

That is a poor record. And it's not that they are not good enough as they are getting to these finals.

That ruthless streak is missing. Liam Cahill has a bit of work to do there, as impressive as his first season was overall.

DOMINANT

Comparing Limerick's record since 2015, they have won two Munster finals, two leagues and now two All-Irelands, they are playing 'winning' hurling and they can keep that going as their age profile is very good and no one seems to be able to beat their system. Again that is a great credit to John Kiely and his backroom. Their hunger is still there, and they seem to be a very solid bunch of guys. Just what you'd expect from a Kiely team.

I am involved in hurling a long time but I have to say the game is getting boring. Despite what the experts may say, and there are a lot of them, the entertainment value in hurling is gone.

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson and Barry Nash of Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Waterford’s Austin Gleeson and Barry Nash of Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

I feel it is getting more and more like football, God help us. I would say there is nearly more hand-passing in hurling now than there is in football.

There's very little goalmouth action, which was an exciting part of the game. The goalposts and net are there for a reason but you could nearly do without the net now.

This is not me being cranky or putting the old against the new, it it just my opinion. I haven't seen many entertaining games this year, apart from the Leinster final Galway and Kilkenny, as well as Cork-Tipperary and Tipp-Galway. The rest of the games I wouldn't have paid to see them.

I found the Munster final a bore, especially in the first half, and the All-Ireland final was boring as well. 

This has nothing got to do with winners or losers, it is just the way the game has gone. It's all systems and very robotic.

It's time to let players play with freedom again.

I think the majority of supporters would love a return to the entertainment value that was a very important part of the GAA.

However, massive congratulations to Limerick. They will have a good Christmas. Next season is only around the corner. 

Maybe it will be more entertaining!

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