herald

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Dowling: Marching behind the band no longer enough

HERO: Shane Dowling. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
HERO: Shane Dowling. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Super-sub Shane Dowling and his manager, John Kiely, were preaching the same message after Limerick's fightback from beyond the grave.

In summary, it went something like this ... give us the space to concentrate on the final, free from distraction, and we'll try and complete the job of ending 45 years in the All-Ireland wilderness.

Interviewed on the pitch straight after their extra-time victory over Cork, Dowling described the result as "pure magic" but then pleaded with Limerick supporters to allow the players to "focus for the next three weeks."

As the Na Piarsaigh man explained, this time they don't want to get to a final just to "march behind the band - I want Limerick to go on and win it."

In his post-match briefing, manager Kiely had a similar request for the media, asking them not to contact any players directly outside of their scheduled All-Ireland press event - although his warning that he would "shut the whole thing down" if anyone went against his wish struck a slightly discordant note on a famous day for Limerick.

Clearly, it seems, Limerick are determined to avoid falling prey to All-Ireland hype as some predecessors have in the past.

Yet Kiely insisted: "There is no hype whatsoever. Hype is for the supporters ... to be fair, the supporters have been absolutely fantastic and given us great space and I'm sure they will over the next few weeks as well."

Back to the epic. Six down in the 64th minute, what was the Limerick boss thinking?

"We needed to make a couple of adjustments and we needed to respond very quickly because the clock was running down," he admitted.

"Listen, our bench were phenomenal today. When the lads had empted the tank and cramping and getting tired ... e had to make changes that were difficult because we had players who played very well but we had to take a gamble that they had probably given their all."

None of his subs worked more spectacularly than Dowling, who nailed a monster pressure free with his first touch - and finished with 1-4 in brackets after his name. Having lost his starting place earlier in the summer, Dowling has given his manager All-Ireland food for thought.

"He could have gone home and had an issue with it, but instead he used it very positively," Kiely remarked. "He made a massive effort in training and has been a huge leader in the group for the last month or two. The way he led in the dressing-room was phenomenal; he just refused to leave the ground without winning. I have to take my hat off to him."

Likewise 'keeper Nickie Quaid for his goal-stopping, match-saving intervention to deny Séamus Harnedy in injury-time.

"It was just incredible, wasn't it? I don't know how he got around to it," said Kiely.

Understatement

As for his Cork counterpart, John Meyler, to describe his post-match mood as gutted would be "an understatement," he said. "The fact that we were six points up in the 62nd minute and failed to close out the game was a critical point."

Meyler paid special tribute to wing-forward trojan Daniel Kearney for his "incredible" contribution and wondered aloud about whether Kearney deserved a free in the preamble to Cian Lynch's opening goal.

But, ultimately, he pinpointed the pivotal difference between Limerick subs who made a "massive contribution" and his own bench. "We came up short," he concluded. "I've never made excuses. If you draw a Leinster final, you get a replay. You draw an All-Ireland semi-final at full-time, you don't. They are the rules and we just have to play to them."

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