Limerick boss John Kiely expects another close contest when Cork come calling to the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.

The Rebels will be in dire straits if they lose to the All-Ireland champions following last weekend's opening-round defeat at home to Tipperary.

The sides' two meetings last year were both epics; Kyle Hayes secured a draw for 14-man Limerick in the drawn Munster meeting and Nickie Quaid produced that stunning block on Seamus Harnedy to keep Cork at bay in the All-Ireland semi-final.

The Treaty went on to win that one in extra-time before accounting for Galway in the decider but Cork got some measure of revenge with a 2-21 to 1-21 victory in the Allianz Hurling League.

"You only have to go back to last year when you saw the challenge both teams put up against each other, whether it was down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh or above in Croke Park," Kiely told RTÉ GAA correspondent Brian Carthy.

"There was only a flick of a ball between the two sides, it was nothing at the end of the day.

"I've no doubt the two teams will be very closely matched again this year.

"They beat us down in Limerick in the League so they won't have any fears coming down to Limerick.

"We got a real reminder that night that if we drop our standards any bit, we're going to come out the wrong side of the result. It's something we'll have to react very positively to."

Limerick after winning the League

A county that ended a 45-year wait for Liam MacCarthy last September might have been expected to be sluggish in spring after a winter of celebration.

Not so this Limerick side, who quickly followed up All-Ireland success with a first League crown in 22 years. 

Kiely says he didn't have to crack the whip for a young group hungry for more trophies.

"A little bit of it is wait and see how they're reacting, what kind of levels of hungover they're demonstrating," said Kiely.

"We didn't push them very hard during the course of the League, from our perspective. We allowed the lads to find their own levels of motivation and their own targets.

"As the competition progressed you could see they were growing in appetite for the game and enjoying it.

"When you're enjoying your hurling you generally tend to be playing well.

"You don't dwell too much on it. You're always looking forward to the next game and the next competition. Already the League has been put to bed. 

"They enjoyed their break as well, they were glad to get back to their clubmates and to have a cut off each other in the (Limerick) Championship."

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