John Kiely has accomplished nearly everything possible in his reign as Limerick senior hurling boss but Sunday will mark a first for him as he dukes it out on the sideline with Davy Fitzgerald in championship.
The only other occasion which Kiely and Fitzgerald clashed was a 2017 League meeting when the latter was in charge of Wexford and secured a crucial 1-14 to 0-14 win on home soil, which helped the the Model men earn promotion to Division 1A.
There is also the added spice of Fitzgerald’s former coach Paul Kinnerk, who worked closely with him when they guided Clare to All-Ireland SHC success in 2013, being an integral part of the Limerick juggernaut which has claimed four of the last five All-Ireland titles.
Kiely will duke it out with Fitzgerald, now at the helm of Waterford for a second time, in Sunday’s Munster SHC round-robin opener and the Treaty boss knows to expect the unexpected.
Fitzgerald seemed to be keeping his cards close to his chest during the League – most notably playing dangerous corner-forward Dessie Hutchinson out the pitch as a midfielder – and Kiely knows that his troops will need to be “flexible” to what is thrown at them.
“It’ll be different to what we’ve had in terms of the set-up will be different. Davy sets up his teams differently,” Kiely said ahead of their meeting in Semple Stadium.
“There’s far more fluidity to the set-up of the opposition so we’re going to have to be flexible, we’re going to have to be adaptable and we’re going to have to cope with some unusual positionings on the field.
“But some things won’t change. The Waterford team are extremely highly skilled individuals, a lot of really great hurlers. They’re physically very strong. They’re very experienced.
“They’ve been around the block now the last five or six years with us in tandem and we’ve had some great battles with them.”