The drudgery of inter-county management can be relentless, especially for counties looking for big money.
The concentration is intense, the challenges endless, the problems endless in their variety.
Just ask Limerick boss John Kiely.
“To be honest, I enjoy every day I’m with these guys. Whether it’s training, going to the gym or game day, we love what we do, we work hard to enjoy it.
“It can be difficult at times if there is a phase in the game where you struggle to get the ball, or the opposition hurts you at some point, but I’ve always enjoyed it – and I know everything everyone appreciates – working with these guys.
“It’s a special group. The atmosphere is fantastic around them – we share our highs, we share our lows, whether it’s winning or losing, and there’s a great bond between everyone.
“It’s a very pleasant place to be around, a very pleasant place to work.
This Sunday, Limerick faces Tipperary in the Munster final (Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4:30 p.m.). The forecast is for the Heat – “championship stuff,” as Kiely puts it.
“It’s a shame that we don’t have 46,000 people walking the banks of the Lee to Páirc Uí Chaoimh – what a phenomenal spectacle that would be, what an atmosphere there would be under such circumstances.
“I’m sure those who go with the magic ticket will make noise and create a very special atmosphere.
“For those who attend games this year, they are probably experiencing historic occasions like those lucky enough to be in Thurles or Páirc Uí Chaoimh, or wherever that is later in the year. They are very lucky. so i’m sure they will reciprocate with support.
“The weather is going to be hotter, but that said, players are used to temperatures ranging from their teens to their twenties the last few weeks, and when they train for 70, 80 minutes, they warm up. as much as they would be on another occasion.
“Hydration can be a bit of a challenge, getting it right ahead of time, but I’m sure the guys will accept the conditions, whether it’s a monsoon or a heat wave. If there is a challenge, we will meet it as well.
The takeaway from their semi-final victory over Cork? The resilience they have shown, he says: “Cork put in a fantastic performance on the night in so many ways, they put a lot of pressure on us and we certainly identified a number of areas that weren’t there. up to par at night – our own use of the ball in terms of our own puck, our own shot in particular.
“Look, we came home with a really deep-rooted feeling of ‘there’s a lot of work to be done here, guys, we better get down to business and keep going.’
“We’ve worked really hard over the past ten days and we’re going to do a little more tonight (Tuesday) and hopefully have a better performance next Sunday.”
And last Sunday? Did he watch England-Italy?
“I did, I’m a match-of-the-day fan, would watch an hour of football every Saturday night and appreciate it for what it is, and appreciate (Alan) Shearer’s analysis and Micah (Richards) and co.
“But it’s good to stop hurling every now and then, even if it’s only for an hour on a Sunday night when we went to practice at nine in the morning and not home before three.” or four in the afternoon.
“Sit down to watch a game with a beer. . . I enjoyed that, I guess the first goal kicked the Italians out of their shell and they had to fight for that in the second half. And they showed class in doing that.
The manager in him couldn’t help but take a look at the work of Roberto Mancini and Gareth Southgate, however.
“I watched the interaction in the caucuses as they prepared for penalties, both groups.
“I thought they were completely opposed – the Italians seemed to know without it being made clear who was doing what, whereas the English side seemed to need to give that detail and go through it with the guys.
“Each camp is different. Gareth Southgate spent a month being slapped on the back, and within ten seconds he started being kicked. It is not a surprise.
“I enjoyed the tournament, it was a good tournament, there were some good games. Too bad we weren’t there. “