Wednesday, July 08, 2009

McCarthy: ‘This team can make the break through’

WHEN Cork’s Justin McCarthy accepted the role of Limerick senior hurling manager last October he was under no illusions about the task that lay ahead.
Now after 140 minutes of Munster championship hurling, McCarthy is longing for his players to play with the confidence that would see Limerick ready to challenge at the highest level on a continuous basis.

He didn’t quite sing the lyrics, but McCarthy’s sentiments sound very much along the lines of The Saw Doctors hit song ‘To win just once’.
“One game can change everything,” stressed the Limerick manager when speaking to Leader Sport this Tuesday.
“This team can make the break through if they win one important game.”
Back at the start of 2007, Richie Bennis was of the same viewpoint as McCarthy.
The Patrickswell legend was adamant that a Munster championship win over Tipperary would be the launch pad for success. It may have taken three games to overcome the Premier County, but the victory did propel Limerick to a first All-Ireland appearance for 11 years. Limerick’s long-suffering hurling public will again hope that a win over another of the ‘leading hurling counties’ can inspire this team to progress onwards towards the quarter-finals.
“There is a huge incentive in proving ourselves,” said Justin McCarthy in reference to the defeat in the provincial championship.
He added: “I’m in no doubt that we could have slipped Waterford the first day - I wasn’t underestimating Waterford.
“We can move on in this competition if we are good enough and I believe we are,” he said ahead of the game in Wexford Park.
Limerick must raise their spirits after the replay loss to Waterford, but Wexford too are smarting from their Leinster championship exit. Com Bonner’s side prevailed against Offaly in Wexford Park, but then fell to Anthony Daly’s Dublin revolution.
“I am very happy the way things have went - there has been a good pick-up in training and there have been positive vibes,” said the Limerick manager of the last three weeks.
In the immediate aftermath of the loss to Davy Fitzgerald’s men, Limerick played Offaly in a challenge game and another loss didn’t inspire confidence.
“We had a game against Offaly, which was important. Regardless of how it went we needed a game to get things out of our system - there were things that we had to take on board,” explained McCarthy.
He continued: “We have brought in some young lads to freshen things up in training - these are players for the future and that is also an important part of our brief”.
Last weekend the Limerick under-21 side provided the opposition in another workout and this time the senior side got an expected morale-boosting victory.
“Lads are coming into form,” pointed out the manager.
“I believe we can improve and go forward. We have to be ready - there is one game, one venue and that is our target. You don’t think of the qualifiers when you are involved in the Munster championship, but once it happens you have got to zone into them and be ready.”
The Munster championship dream may have ended, but there is one major piece of silverware and many plaudits yet to be won this Summer.
“It is a new ball game - we have got to get on with it,” said the Corkman.
“We know that we are on a journey in a lot of different ways. You have got to learn from every game and lads will learn all the time.
McCarthy believes the home advantage should not assist Wexford: “We know that we won’t get anything easy in their own backyard, but it is a very good hurling field and there will be no excuse for not playing good hurling - it is up to us to produce the goods.
“I am glad that there is going to be a big crowd there and with that it is up to the players to raise their game.”
Home venue does not always rest easy with some teams.
“When your playing at home you can be thinking that we have it in the bag.
“There is not a lot between a lot of the teams, but it is up to us to produce the goods.”

Jerome O’Connell

Across The Gain Line . . . with Colm Kinsella

PAUL (O’Connell) has been absolutely immense on this tour and is the best captain I have ever worked with.
“The way he has handled himself in the last week of the tour speaks volumes about the man.
“He spoke to the group on Friday night, telling us what the final Test meant to him and what an honour it had been for him to play for the Lions.
“Paul told us our performance in the game would leave a legacy for the next four years. It was real hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck stuff.
“I don’t think Paul gets the credit he deserves. When you play with or against him you realise just how good a player he is.
“He does all the unglamorous work at close quarters and has an unbelievable engine. People in the stands don’t necessarily see that.
“As a captain, he is absolutely inspirational- we all have so much respect for him.”
The above glowing tribute of Lions captain Paul O’Connell wasn’t penned by one of his Munster or Irish team-mates but by Welsh flanker Martyn Williams in his column on the BBC website.
So much for Warren Gatland’s assertion earlier this year that, “probably, out of all the teams in the Six Nations, the Welsh players dislike the Irish the most.”
Williams description of O’Connell as the ‘best captain I have ever worked with’ should not be taken lightly. The Cardiff Blues star is a former double Grand Slam winner, who was part of the Lions touring party to Australia in 2001 and New Zealand in 2005. He has worked with some highly regarded skippers in the past.
It is high praise indeed. But Williams’ tribute wasn’t the only unsolicited praise O’Connell received during the course of the tour.
Scrum-half Mike Phillips and Leinster-bound lock Nathan Hines also made special mention of O’Connell’s outstanding contribution.
Some sections of the English media wondered whether the Young Munster clubman’s place in the Lions’ starting line-up was under threat for the Test matches. It was laughable, seemingly born out of a touch of envy at the relatively small number of English players included in the starting line up for the opening two Test matches.
O’Connell proved his immense value to the tourists throughout the 10-match tour, but especially with the manner in which he rallied the troops in advance of the final Test in Johannesburg last weekend.

Concerns expressed by British & Irish Lions doctor
CONCERNS expressed by British & Irish Lions doctor James Robson over the shape of modern day rugby players won’t have gone un-noticed by clubs in this part of the world.
Robson has been the Lions doctor on five tours but he has never known anything like the levels of intensity and attrition witnessed during the Lions’ 2-1 series defeat to South Africa.
Five Lions players - and two Springboks - ended up in hospital after the brutal game and Robson fears the balance is wrong between power and skill.
Robson believes players have got too big for their skill levels.
“I think they have become a little too muscle-bound and too bulky. I think you may see changes in the physical nature of the player that brings them back a little - I hope so - in order to speed up the game and introduce a higher level of skill.”
Robson repeated his call for the northern hemisphere unions to take a uniform approach to the number of matches professional players are having to play.

And finally . . .
Favourite Lions quote of 2009: “You know you’ve had a s**t game when you get text messages from your mum, your sister and your Mrs saying that they still love you.”
(Lions prop Phil Vickery offers an insight into the trials of a professional rugby player as he prepared for the third Test against the Springboks).

Brian Tuohy signs for Connacht

LIMERICKMAN Brian Tuohy is among the new signings confirmed by Connacht rugby coach Michael Bradley as he rebuilds for the 2009/10 rugby season - former multiple AIL medal winner with Shannon, Tuohy has joined Connacht from English League One side, the Cornish Pirates.
The versatile Tuohy, who is equally adept at full-back and centre, lined out for the Irish Sevens side at the Rugby World Cup in Dubai earlier this year.
Tuohy joins two more Limerick natives, hooker Sean Cronin and centre Keith Matthews, at the Sportsgrounds in Galway.
Twenty six-year-old Tuohy was an AIB League Division One winner with Shannon in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and made one Celtic League appearance for Munster. After failing to make the breakthrough with his home province, he moved to the Earth Titans. In 2006-07 he scored 17 tries in the league for Earth Titans before joining the Cornish side. He was the leading try-scorer for the Yorkshire club, his total putting him impressively third in National One’s top try-scoring list.
Tuohy first rugby was played at the UL Bohemian club aged 9. His undoubted talent was further nurtured at Crescent College Comprehensive from 1995 to 2001. He played three seasons for the first XV and captained them in his final year.
Brian was a try-scorer for Shannon in 2005 against Belfast Harlequins at Lansdowne Road, a victory which saw the Parish side capture the All-Ireland Division One title
Meanwhile, Munster rugby chiefs are expecting to learn whether South African centre Jean de Villiers will join the province within the next fortnight. The double Heineken Cup champions are hoping to acquire the services of the high-rated Sormers and Springbok centre for the coming season.
De Villiers, who didn’t feature in the South African side in Saturday’s third Test with the Lions, is seen as a natural replacement for the departed Rua Tipoki.
Reports emanating from South Africa indicate that 28-year-old de Villiers plans to discuss his future with both the Western Province and South African management teams later this week before indicating his next move.
De Villiers’ agent Stan Matthews indicated that while the centre had been approached by Munster over a move to the Magners League holders he had yet to make a decision.
Matthews also revealed that De Villiers had received an offer from a French club.

Colm Kinsella

Injury Time . . . with Jerome O'Connell

COUNTY Board officials were left red faced and with questions to answer after last Thursday night’s County Junior A Hurling League Final.
Doon and Dromcollogher-Broadford took to the field in Fitzgerald Park Kilmallock, but no referee turned up for the county final.

Efforts were made to summon a referee to the venue, but to no avail.
So all togged off and headed home - some of the players had travelled from Dublin and other places of work outside of the county.
Hardly a satisfactory situation for a final.
And, that was after the fixture had been incorrectly advertised as a semi-final in the County Board fixtures circulated to local and national media.

Just four Limerick players nominated
JUST four Limerick players have been included among the 45 nominees for the Munster hurling team of the last 25 years.
Earlier in the year it was announced that as part of the GAA 125 celebrations, the Munster Council were to select the hurling and football team of the province from the last 25 years.
That process is now to be conducted through the pages of the Irish Examiner newspaper.
This week, the nominees were released for the hurling team.
The judging panel has short listed 45 players, three for each position.
The only Limerick men included are Bruree’s Stephen McDonogh, Patrickwell’s Ciaran Carey, Adare’s Mark Foley and Patrickswell’s Gary Kirby.
McDonogh faces opposition from Tipperary’s Paul Delaney and Cork’s Wayne Sherlock for the right corner back spot.
Carey is vying for the centre-back role with Clare’s Sean McMahon and Cork’s Brian Corcoran.
Foley is listed for the left half back jersey with Anthony Daly of Clare and Sean Og O hAilpin of Cork.
Kirby is Limerick’s only attacker short-listed along with Ken McGrath of Waterford and Declan Ryan of Tipperary.
In the football equilivant, announced the previous week, Croom’s John Galvin was the sole Limerick nominee in a selection dominated by Kerry and Cork.

Flood lights
A reader has made contact to question the location of the masts for the eagerly-awaited flood lights in the Gaelic Grounds.
Yes, both masts at the open stand side of the field are to be placed within the City and Caherdavin end terraces.
“It’s pretty obvious that these masts are going to provide a fairly large obstacle for spectators viewing a match from the corners of each terrace.
“Bear in mind that many people in the terrace prefer to watch the match from the corners because of the superior views of the pitch.
“The view from the Mackey stand is poor enough without them ruining some of the better vantage points in the stadium,” writes the disgruntled reader.
I can’t fully agree - I’m afraid it’s all too seldom that the Gaelic Grounds is full to capacity so it will be rare both terraces will be full.
And, in my many days at the venue this season, I can’t recall anyone perched at those particular vantage points, so I think the arrival of the flood lights is to be heralded rather than bemoaning the “latest Limerick GAA cock-up”.
I did make contact with Limerick County Board on the subject and the masts had to be positioned within the terraces to limit the level of light spillage into the nearby residences as requested in the planning permission granted by Limerick City Council.

Limerick GAA officials issue a call to arms

LIMERICK GAA officials have issued a call to arms to the GAA clubs of the county to come out in large numbers this Saturday to accompany Munster GAA’s commemorative torch run through the county.
As part of the GAA’s 125 year celebrations, the Torch Run will commence from the home of Michael Cusack in Carron in north Clare and journey to the location of the foundation meeting in Hayes Hotel in Thurles. The Torch Run commences at 12noon on Saturday and will reach Limerick at approximately 2.45.
Each club is being asked to bring in at least 30 12-14 year olds, dressed in their club colours with flags and banners, to assist with the parade.
The clubs are asked to assemble in the Gaelic Grounds at 2.00 where musical entertainment will be provided by a number of Scor participants. At 2.45 Meelick GAA club will hand over the torch at the Coonagh roundabout on the Ennis Road to members of Na Piarsaigh. who will bring it to the Gaelic Grounds.
The Caherdavin club will then be joined by the clubs of the county as the torch is paraded via the Ennis Road, Sarsfields Bridge, William St. and on to Mulgrave St.
At 4.30 Claughaun will take the torch from Mulgrave St to their clubhouse on the Childers Road, from where St Patrick’s will carry the torch to the Groody bridge. Milford take over the Groody bridge to Hurlers Cross, where the torch passes to Monaleen. The final leg of the Limerick participation sees, Ahane take the torch from Annacotty Village to Finnegans roundabout, where the torch will be passed to Tipperary County Board. The torch is expected at Hayes Hotel at 9pm Saturday night and will be carried into Semple Stadium on Munster hurling final day.
On Sunday at 2.20 the torch will leave Hayes Hotel for Semple Stadium with the flags of each Munster county and a representative of each county.
1973 All-Ireland senior hurling championship winning captain Eamonn Grimes has been nominated as Limerick’s representative. The South Liberties man will be joined by Christy Walsh (Kerry), David Duggan (Waterford), Jimmy Smyth (Clare) and Teddy McCarthy (Cork).
At 3.15 the torch will brought into the Semple Stadium by Tipperary legend Jimmy Doyle and handed to Munster GAA chairman Jimmy O’Gorman, who will light six mini torches to be held by Liam Lenihan and his fellow County Board chairmen.
The torch run is just one of the many events organised around this Sunday’s Munster hurling final between Tipperary and Waterford.
On Saturday the Munster Long Puck final will take place at 11am in Thurles Racecourse and Albert Shanahan will be the Limerick’s representative.
On Sunday Gary Kirby and Ciaran Carey will be the only Limerick men involved when the captains of winning Munster hurling teams of the last 25 years are introduced to the crowd at half time in the senior final.
For further information about the weekend’s 125 year celebrations see:

Jerome O’Connell

‘They all want to hurl and they have shown a great attitude’

LIMERICK’S last chance of a Munster championship title in 2009 now rests with the county under-21 hurling side.
On Wednesday night next, July 15 Limerick travel to Cusack Park in Ennis to play the home side in the provincial semi-final.
Limerick are bidding to reach a first final since the third of the three-in-a-row successes in 2002 - the 2009 Bord Gáis Energy sponsored Munster under-21 hurling championship final is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29.
Remarkably, the last meeting of Limerick and Clare in the under-21 championship was back in July 2000 in Ennis.
That win propelled Dave Keane’s side to a three-year unbeaten run that returned Munster and All-Ireland crowns aplenty.
This season Limerick are managed by Claughaun stalwart Leo O’Connor.
O’Connor, who cut his coaching teeth with Ballinahinch, Newport and Mungret, is joined by selectors Mick Heelan (Kilmallock), Peter Curtin (Newcastle West) and Pat Donnelly (South Liberties).
O’Connor and Donnelly will be hoping to guide their players to success, just as they did as team-mates back in 1987.
Due to directives from Croke Park, O’Connor and company were restrained as to their preparations for the clash against the Banner.
“We were only allowed four inter-county matches and 10 training sessions,” explained Leo O’Connor.
Limerick concluded their preparations with a challenge match against Birr this Monday evening.
“To be honest the last month has gone extremely well,” said O’Connor, accepting that early season challenge games against Tipperary and Cork didn’t inspire confidence.
“They all want to hurl and they have shown a great attitude.”
In recent weeks games against the county intermediate and county senior sides have assisted team building. Club sides Kilmallock, Patrickswell, Croom and Glen Rovers have also provided opposition.
Two weeks ago Limerick were 0-17 to 2-9 winners over Waterford in the annual Tommy Quaid Memorial Cup tournament.
“I think there is a lot of good talent out there,” said O’Connor of underage hurling in Limerick - he is also manager of the Limerick under-17 development side at present.
“Everyone that we looked at got games and I can say that it is going to be a difficult job to narrow our squad down to 24.”
Back-boning the Limerick effort will be captain Bryan O’Sullivan (Kilmallock), Paul Browne (Bruff) and Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) who are all members the senior panel.
Others likely to feature will be Kilmallock players Barry Hennessy, Paudie O’Brien, Philip O’Loughlin, Shane O’Donnell and John Kelly, James Mann (Patrickswell), Bobby O’Brien (Bruff), Brian Moloney (Blackrock). Young stars Tommy O’Brien (Patrickswell), Pat Begley (Mungret), Sean Madden (Ahane) and Declan Hannon (Adare) are also involved.
Next Wednesday’s opponents Clare are under the same management as last season when they felt aggrieved to lose to Tipperary in the Munster final in Ennis.
“Especially after last year they will have the incentive to prove a point for that final defeat,” said O’Connor.
Included in the Clare side will be former Ardscoil Ris player Nicky O’Connell.

Jerome O’Connell

Footballers re-focus their attention on the All-Ireland qualifiers

PLAYING competitive football in the month of August for the first time in modern championship history is now the carrot for the Limerick senior footballers.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan re-grouped his charges this Wednesday night and they will train again on Friday night as they bid to overcome the heartbreak of last Sunday’s Munster championship final defeat.

Unlike the other provincial final defeats of this decade, Limerick have three weeks before they enter the qualifier system and already Mickey Ned, Donie Buckley, Joe Redington and Paddy Ivess are working towards their round four date on July 25.
Back in 2003 and 2004, Liam Kearns’ side had just a turn-around of one week and they subsequently fell to Armagh (2003) and Derry (2004) in Roscommon’s Hyde Park.
Two rounds of the qualifiers remain before Limerick will find out their opposition in the round four draw on Sunday evening, July 19.
The big name possibilities are Kerry, Derry, Monaghan and Donegal along with Down, Laois, Longford, Wexford, Roscommon, Tipperary, Sligo, Clare, Westmeath, Meath, Wicklow and Cavan.
Eight qualifier games take place this Saturday and the eight winners will play the following weekend to determine the four that will face the four beaten provincial finalists on Saturday, July 25.
The round four qualifiers will once again be on a home and away basis, so getting Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds as a venue could be a key factor.
Come the last weekend of the month just 12 counties will remain in contention for the Sam Maguire Cup and the goal for Limerick must be to reach the quarter-finals on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
A slight leg injury to full-back Shane Gallagher is the only injury concern after the oh-so-near decider on Leeside.
After training this week the panel will return to their clubs at the weekend ahead of round two of the Limerick’s Live 95FM sponsored county senior football championship next week.

Jerome O’Connell

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Make or break time for Limerick

LIMERICK’S hurlers will need to take motivation from the high octane and spirited performance of the county footballers for Saturday’s make-or-break All-Ireland phase two hurling qualifier - Justin McCarthy’s Limerick travel to Wexford Park to face the home side in round one of the qualifying system in a game that has a 5pm start.
The task of facing the Model County in their own backyard has been made all the more difficult with confirmation that Wexford’s All-Ireland football qualifier against Roscommon will be the curtain-raiser to the hurling tie - 3pm start.
While a large Wexford following is expected the 225-mile round trip is not endearing itself to GAA followers on Shannonside, with no direct rail or bus link.
RTE and TV3 have confirmed that the game will not be included in the live coverage for Saturday evening - RTE have opted to televise the Clare v Galway hurling qualifier.

Win or lose this Saturday the Limerick hurlers will be back in action the following weekend, July 18. If Limerick can overcome the Model County they will face either Cork or Laois in phase three of the qualifiers for a place in the All-Ireland quarter-final against one of the beaten provincial finalists - Dublin, Tipperary or Waterford.
Defeat to Wexford would mean an unthinkable relegation play-off against Offaly or Antrim.
For the Wexford Park contest, Limerick will need to display an ‘appetite for a battle’.
The qualifiers are all about gaining momentum and securing the two wins necessary to return to the All-Ireland championship ‘proper’ at the quarter-final stage.
However, Limerick’s record in the qualifiers is not the greatest.
Since Limerick lost to Wexford in the 2001 All-Ireland quarter-final, they have only beaten Offaly (2006), Dublin, Laois, Antrim and Kerry in the qualifiers while defeats were inflicted by Offaly (twice), Clare, Galway, Cork and Tipperary.
Another unwelcome statistic is that Limerick are now without a championship win since August 12 2007, when Richie Bennis’ side were 5-11 to 2-15 winners over Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final. Since that memorable day, five championship games (Kilkenny, Clare, Offaly, Waterford (twice) have passed without a victory.
To add to Limerick woes the head-to-head record against Wexford is not encouraging - the sides have met on five occasions in championship hurling. Limerick’s only win was in the All-Ireland final of 1918 while Wexford were successful in the All-Ireland finals of 1910 and 1996, the semi-final in 1955 and most recently the quarter-final of 2001.
In the three weeks since Limerick’s disappointing championship exit in the replay against Waterford, Justin McCarthy’s Limerick have played challenge games against Offaly and the county under-21 side.
Changes in personnel are expected when the Limerick team is announced with Gavin O’Mahony, Wayne McNamara and Mike O’Brien pushing for inclusion.
Limerick report no injury worries, but Colm Bonner’s Wexford could be without key full-forward Stephen Banville who was this week diagnosed with glandular fever.
Stephen Nolan (groin) and Tomás Waters (knee ligament) are also injury worries for Wexford while there is better news concerning Keith Rossiter and Darren Stamp, who are making good progress from groin and ankle injuries respectively.
Two players that will come into contention for places in the Limerick defence are Stephen Lucey and Mark O’Riordan. The Croom dual players have just six days to overcome the heartache of last Sunday’s Munster senior football final defeat to Cork.
The provincial football final was another case of ‘what might have been’ as Limerick’s famine now stretches to 114 years.
A blistering first half display saw Limerick race into a 0-8 to 1-2 interval lead in the Munster final, with just a hotly-disputed penalty saving Cork’s blushes. With 15 minutes to play the sides were level, but Cork were to deny a gallant Limerick a first title since 1896.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s footballers will be back in action in round three of the qualifiers on the weekend of July 25-26.
Two rounds of the qualifiers remain before Limerick will find out their opposition in the round four draw on Sunday evening, July 19.
The big name possibilities are Kerry, Derry, Monaghan and Donegal along with Down, Laois, Longford, Wexford, Roscommon, Tipperary, Sligo, Clare, Westmeath, Meath, Wicklow and Cavan.

Jerome O’Connell

Pat Scully: ‘Performances like it are not going to get us anywhere’

LIMERICK FC manager Pat Scully is not a happy camper - the Super Blues host the Wexford Youths on Friday night in Jackman Park (7.45pm) with Scully searching for a reaction from his players in the wake of Limerick’s poor performance away to Monaghan United last week.

On Thursday night last Limerick travelled to Monaghan and lost 1-0 to the home side - that reversal makes it three defeats in-a-row for the Super Blues while Limerick have not scored a goal since beating Athlone Town 2-0 on June 5.
In the intervening weeks Limerick lost to Shelbourne (0-1) and St. Patrick’s Athletic (0-1 - FAI Ford Cup), but the defeat at the hands of a resurgent Monaghan United irritated Pat Scully no end.
“A very poor result, from start to finish the performance of the players was very disappointing,” Pat Scully stressed this week.
“The result was bad and there’s no disputing that fact.
“We just didn’t come back from the (mid-season) break.
“It was a very sloppy, a really poor display. That result was not acceptable and performances like it are not going to get us anywhere. The players were very disappointed with the standard of their performance and the players were let know in no uncertain terms that it just was not good enough. We were hindered a little with injuries, but that’s no excuse.”
With Pat Scully desperately hoping for an improved performance this Friday night his side will have it all to do to earn a positive result against a Wexford Youths team which is brimming with confidence and features two former Super Blues in Peter White and Garry Sheahan.
Last weekend Wexford Youths beat Athlone Town 1-0, their ninth league win of the season, and although Limerick earned a 2-0 win against Wexford earlier this season the Youths’ impressive away wins against UCD (1-0) and Waterford United (2-1) suggest that Mick Wallace’s young side have improved since they last encountered Limerick FC.
“We know that Wexford are a very good team,” admitted Pat Scully.
“Their results have been better than ours this season and that’s no fluke. They’ve strengthened from last season and look a very capable team. It will be a tough game, but we have to learn from last week.
“We need to get back to the way we had been playing.
“When we play well we’re a match for anyone and we should win games, but if we play like we did against Monaghan we won’t ever win a game.
“We need to work hard and earn the right to win games.
“I’m looking for a big reaction from the players on Friday night. How they respond to the Monaghan defeat will tell me a lot about them.”
After a four-game touchline ban, which Pat Scully incurred for an altercation with a referee following Limerick’s nil-all draw with UCD, the Limerick manager will be in a position to goad on his players from the sideline this Friday night.
“It has been very frustrating for the last few weeks not being involved during the games,” added Pat Scully.
“It has been very difficult, but I’m looking forward to getting back on the sideline and hopefully I’ll steer clear of that kind of trouble in the future.”
Although Conor Molan’s international clearance has come through with Molan touted to start against Wexford a raft of injuries still hamper Limerick’s preparations for Friday night. Top scorer Paul Cummins looks like he could miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury as could Jamie Wunsch (knee). Thomas Lyons is also struggling to shake off a knee complaint while captain Pat Purcell is two to three weeks away from full fitness. Injury will also rule Ian Storan out on Friday night.
To further complicate matters Limerick were dealt a hammer blow with the news that crowd favourite Tommy Barrett is retiring from League of Ireland of football. Although rumours suggest that Barrett will sign for Fairview Rangers in time for the 2009-10 Premier League season that news will offer little consolation to Super Blues supporters.
“Tommy Barrett has retired and he’s a big loss to the squad,” explained Pat Scully.
“He gave me a call before the game against Monaghan United. He has had on-going problems with a knee injury and at times he was even finding it hard to train. He was doing a lot of gym work, but it was getting very difficult for him to get as fit as he would have liked. He really was struggling with a really persistent knee problem. As well as that he was finding it hard with work and so on to make the commitment required.
“We’ve lost him now and it’s a blow we’ll have to try and recover from. I’ve great respect for Tommy.
“He’s a brilliant lad, he’s got great character and he was a real leader on the team. We’ve got to respect Tommy’s decision to leave Limerick and everyone in the club wishes Tommy well for the future.”
The loss of Tommy Barrett and injuries to key players aside Limerick’s lack of goals must now represent a real concern for Pat Scully. The Super Blues have failed to score in three games now and in four of their last five league games. Indeed, Limerick have failed to score in eight of their 16 league games - the Super Blues have also failed to score in five of their eight First Division games at Jackman Park this season.
“Look,” insisted Pat Scully, “I would be more worried if we were not creating chances, but we are.
“Even against Monaghan we still created three or four good goal-scoring chances, but we didn’t take them. I wouldn’t be too critical of the lads playing up front, but we do need to start scoring more goals. We’ve not scored anywhere near enough.
“I genuinely think we’ve got players who can score. Although John Tierney has been hampered by injury he is a proven goal scorer and Shane Clarke has been brilliant since he signed for the club. We’ve been creating plenty of chances and I’ve no doubt that the goals will come. We created chances against Monaghan, UCD, Shels and St. Pat’s, but maybe we lacked a little bit of the killer instinct to put them away. We need to start turning chances into goals and performances into wins.
“I am disappointed with the results, but we’ve been playing better than the results would suggest. We need to reverse that trend as soon as possible. Friday night against Wexford is about wiping the slate clean, starting again, getting a good result and then kicking on from there. We need to be ruthless and I’ve no doubt that we can win it. I’m not happy with the results, but I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here in Limerick.”

Brian McDonnell

Monday, July 06, 2009

‘I hope we can re-group and pick ourselves up’

THE heartbreak was written all over the faces of the Limerick senior footballers as they stood disconsolate on the field in Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday watching Cork lift the Munster title - another case of ‘what might have been’ as Limerick’s famine now stretches to 114 years.
A blistering first half display saw Limerick race into a 0-8 to 1-2 interval lead in the Munster final, with just a hotly-disputed penalty saving Cork’s blushes. With 15 minutes to play the sides were level, but Cork were to deny a gallant Limerick a first title since 1896.

“One hundred and 13 years doesn’t bother me - all I know is that I am playing for 11 years and I haven’t won one,” said Limerick’s midfield master John Galvin.
“This is the third year now - in 2004 we should have taken Kerry and now there is 2009 and I personally think we should have taken Cork today.”
Another moral victory was not good enough for Galvin.
“I have been in nearly teams for years,” he sighed.
“The problem with nearly teams is that they die. How many nearly teams are there, look at Fermanagh, Wexford...”
Galvin now wants his side to re-group for the qualifiers on the weekend of July 25-26.
“You need to win something to keep up the spirit. We are just after losing the match and I am a bit down, but I hope we can re-group.”
Two rounds of the qualifiers remain before Limerick will find out their opposition in the round four draw on Sunday evening, July 19.
The big name possibilities are Kerry, Derry, Monaghan and Donegal along with Down, Laois, Longford, Wexford, Roscommon, Tipperary, Sligo, Clare, Westmeath, Meath, Wicklow and Cavan.
“It is going to be hard to pick ourselves up,” said a clearly disappointed John Galvin.
“It would be terrible to leave the season like that and not put in a good fight for the qualifiers. I hope we can re-group and pick ourselves up. We deserve to be in the last 12 in the qualifiers. We believed if we went out there today and performed and stuck with Cork we could take them,” the Croom man said with another rueful shake of his head.
“It didn’t turn out the way we had expected - we were total underdogs going in there today, but we knew that if we went out and performed we would be there at the end of the match with a chance of taking them.
“We performed to a certain extent, but I still think we could have done better - there were a lot of chances missed that we should have taken.
“We dominated the first half and could have put up more scores and had a bigger lead,” he recalled.
“It’s a cruel game - Cork got the small bit of the rub of the green that is needed. It’s very hard to maintain the intensity high for 70 minutes, but when you are dominating we should have put up a bigger lead.
“Unfortunately we didn’t take advantage of our time on top and Cork got a goal from the penalty against the run of play.”
Stephen Lucey and Mark O’Riordan were two of the Limerick heroes in defence yesterday.
The Croom colleagues now face just a six-day turn around as they prepare for next Saturday’s All-Ireland hurling qualifiers. The two dual players will be part of Justin McCarthy’s plans for the trip to Wexford Park to face Colm Bonner’s home side. The Limerick v Wexford hurling game is now likely to form a double-header with Wexford’s football qualifier against Roscommon.

Jerome O'Connell

Munster hope to seal the Jean De Villiers deal

MUNSTER rugby chiefs are expecting to learn whether South African centre Jean De Villiers will join the province within the next fortnight.
The double Heineken Cup champions are hoping to acquire the services of the highly-rated Stormers and Springbok centre for the coming season. De Villiers, who didn’t feature in the South African side in Saturday’s third Test against the Lions, is seen as a natural replacement for the departed Rua Tipoki.
Reports emanating from South Africa indicate that the 28-year-old de Villiers plans to discuss his future with both the Western Province and South African management teams later this week before indicating his next move.
Jean De Villiers agent Stan Matthews indicated that while the international centre had been approached by Munster over a move to the Magners League holders he had yet to make a decision.
Matthews also revealed that De Villiers had received an offer from a French club.
Meanwhile Lions skipper Paul O’Connell said he was proud of the way his side responded to the disappointment of losing the second Test with the last kick of the game in Pretoria to win the third and final Test on Saturday.
The Lions’ 28-9, three tries to nil victory, ended a run of eight Tests without a victory and stopped the current tourists becoming the first side to suffer a series whitewash in South Africa.
It was the Irish lock’s first win in a Test at the sixth attempt with the Lions and he rightly came in for some special praise from legendary coach McGeechan.
Paul O’Connell said: “We wallowed a bit for two or three days after the game in Pretoria. We started talking a lot about the shirt. We talked about guys getting their first Lions cap and guys possibly getting their last.
“The guys are very conscious of the Lions ethos and wanted to do it proud.
“It was a very tough week mentally for everyone.
“By the end of the week we rallied. We just really dug deep. Some guys produced some serious form and produced some great scores.
“But I started thinking straight away after the final whistle that after we get over enjoying this we might be filled with regret.
“Sport can be cruel.
“I hope people don’t misconstrue our lap of honour.
“We’re under no illusions that we lost the Test series.
“But a lot of people paid a lot of money to come out here, we wanted to thank them.
“I must say congratulations to the Springboks. They won the series we both wanted.
“But what these players have achieved in just six weeks should not be underestimated. They have played the world champions in their own back yard and given as good as they have got for three Tests.
“This victory will last for four years.”
Lions’ head coach Ian McGeechan paid a warm tribute to captain O’Connell for his contribution during the course of the tour.
“Paul did a fantastic job. He’s been a great captain and has led the side magnificently,” said McGeechan.
“He’s been very good with the players and tied in with the senior players in setting the right standards. He has been an outstanding captain.”

Colm Kinsella

Thursday, July 02, 2009

O’Connell backs pride of Lions for final South African test

CAPTAIN Paul O’Connell is backing his pride of Lions to produce another passionate display in their final Test clash with South Africa at Coca Cola Park, Johannesburg on Saturday.

This weekend’s third Test provides an opportunity for O’Connell’s men to salvage something from the Castle Lager Series and head home with their heads held high. World champions South Africa secured the Test series win with a dramatic 28-25 victory over the tourists on Saturday.
“I’m proud of how the lads performed over the past two weeks and I think we were very unlucky. That just gives us some positivity to take into the third Test,” said O’Connell, who has now played five Tests for the Lions without tasting victory.
“We can’t escape from the fact we are going into the game 2-0 down in the series, and that’s disappointing because we came here to win. I believe we can replicate the passion and intensity of Loftus Versfeld once again and we are certainly enthusiastic to do that. There isn’t everything riding on the fixture as there was last weekend, but it’s another chance to wear the Lions Test jersey. We all want to win in the Lions jersey and there is a massive respect within the squad for what the Lions means.
“For me and a lot of the guys, passion and emotion still plays a massive part in the game and we’ll be looking to bring everything we can to the last Test. We are eager to prove ourselves because we don’t believe that being 2-0 down is a true reflection of where we are as a team.”
Lock O’Connell believes his Munster team-mate Ronan O’Gara will bounce back strongly from the disappointment of conceding the crucial last gasp penalty which handed South Africa the chance to win last weekend’s second Test in Pretoria.
“Ronan (O’Gara) is disappointed and very low, but he’s a tough guy mentally - that’s his biggest strength.
“What happened in the second Test won’t be lost on him, but the tough guys bounce back and Ronan is one of them. When you keep putting yourself out there for selection in the big games these things happen.
“Our careers aren’t always up, up, up. We should have been away and the game should have been over by that stage and we all have bad days.
“Ronan has had many brilliant days, where he has won games single-handedly, and I’m lucky enough to have won a few medals because of his brilliance. I don’t think I would have any of them if it wasn’t for him. He’s extremely disappointed and, no doubt, he will beat himself up over it, but he will bounce back.”
Meanwhile Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has launched a plea for the British & Irish Lions to be given the time to prepare properly for future tours so they remain competitive against the three Southern Hemisphere rugby giants.
Ian McGeechan believes the current trip to South Africa has resulted in ‘some of the best rugby ever’, despite his side’s series defeat.
McGeechan believes officials from the home unions and domestic competitions must adjust the season for future Lions tours.
McGeechan would like to see the Lions given the same priority as a World Cup.
“If they give the Lions a fair crack, the Test series will always be very meaningful,” McGeechan said.
“I just wish more of these people who don’t want to make time for the Lions would actually come out and experience a tour. I don’t think they understand the impact.”
The Lions’ hopes of a first Test victory in eight outings - an unwanted record dating back to Brisbane 2001 - are affected by injuries.
Gethin Jenkins (fractured cheekbone), Adam Jones (dislocated shoulder) and Brian O’Driscoll (concussion) are all out of the game.

South Africa v British & Irish Lions
Third Test: Saturday, July 4,
Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 2pm (Irish time)
TV: Live Sky Sports 1 from 1.30pm
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)

Colm Kinsella

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Across The Gain Line . . . with Colm Kinsella

British and Irish Lions hero Keith Wood believes the itinerary, structure and running of future tours will have to change or he fears that the attraction of the concept will cease.
Former Garryowen, Munster and Ireland hooker Wood feel that the Lions are not out of date, but they are out of balance.
Keith Wood, who played a significant role in the Lions Test series win in South Africa 12 years ago, says the Corinthian spirit of the British & Irish Lions tours needs to be a two-way street.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph this week, Wood said the Lions should not be playing in half-full stadiums because of too high ticket prices and a ‘daft selection policy, as shown by South Africa holding back their Test players.’
Wood continued: “My view is that the structure has to change.
“Make it a seven-match tour, all Saturdays, four big warm-up games followed by the three Tests.
“The midweek matches are out of kilter with the level of contact in today’s game, and three-day turnarounds for players are unacceptable.
“Cut the squad numbers, so that the Test team is known as early as the third match and flaws are ironed out before the internationals.
“It many ways it goes against my view of what the Lions is about, but I feel we need a change and we need control of our own destiny.
“No one could deny the pride that the Lions showed at the weekend.
“It is very rare to hear anyone who has played in a Lions Test to criticise the players.
“The reason is not some misplaced level of support, it is a recognition of how difficult the journey is.
“The difficulty is what makes it so irresistible and ought to guarantee the Lions survival.
“We just need it to be on a somewhat more even playing field.”

Munster step up their efforts
MUNSTER have stepped up their efforts to sign a prop forward as the countdown to the new season begins in earnest.
The province recently got the green light from the IRFU to bolster their front row options.
Munster have been on the look-out for a new prop with three of their front line front row players, Marcus Horan, John Hayes and Tony Buckley, all involved with the Irish squad.
The fact that 24-year-old prop Timmy Ryan has opted to move to France to play his club rugby with Toulon has also increased Munster’s need to recruit in this area.
While Munster’s search for a new prop forward is at an early stage, it is believed the province will focus on trying to recruit a player from the Northern Hemisphere who holds an EU passport.
The province are also said to be expecting developments in relation to their hopes of securing the services of South Africa centre Jean de Villiers once the final Test match with the British and Irish Lions ends in Johannesburg this Saturday.
It is understood that De Villiers is yet to sign any contract with the two-time Heineken Cup champions.

The Rugby Show Live
THE launch of a new concept The Rugby Show Live, due to be staged at the RDS on September 12 and 13, took place earlier this week.
Ireland’s first consumer rugby show, The Rugby Show Live, will enable the public to gain access to many Irish rugby professionals, learn more about the game with specialised clinics; experience what happens on and off the pitch and much, much more.
It is for every member of the family and it’s something for all sports fans to mark in their diary.
It is the first time for such a show to arrive in Ireland and is endorsed by a number of well known Rugby pundits and proudly sponsored by Chorus ntl.

Injury Time . . . with Jerome O'Connell

EARLIER in the year it was announced that as part of the GAA 125 celebrations the Munster Council were to select the hurling and football team of the province from the last 25 years.
It now appears that this process is to be conducted through the pages of the Irish Examiner newspaper.
This week, the nominees were released for the football team. The judging panel has shortlisted 45players, three for each position.
All bar three of the players are from Kerry and Cork.
Limerick and Croom midfielder John Galvin is sole local player short listed. He is joined by Clare’s Seamus Clancy and Tipperary’s Declan Browne.
Galvin faces competition from Ambrose O’Donovan, Darragh O’Se, Jack O’Shea, Shea Fahy and Teddy McCarthy for the two midfield berths.
Ahead of Sunday’s Munster final, its a great honour for Galvin to be one of just a dozen players still playing to be included in the shortlist.
With was probably most unlikely that Limerick would get two nominees in the one position, but John Quane must have been very close.
The closing date for entries is July 17.

Underage funding
THE county underage hurling teams are busy preparing for their annual inter-county competitions in late August.
However, they will have to take some time out to fund-raise for their playing gear.
In the coming weeks a sponsored walk will take place along the west Limerick railway track from Templeglantine to Barna.
It’s probably a sign of the current economic times, but all members of the county under-14, under-15 and under-16 hurling panels are to be issued with sponsorship cards and be asked to sell 20 lines at €1 each.
The profits earned will help alleviate the cost of providing the panels with togs, socks, t-shirts, wind-breakers and gearbags - gear which in many counties is supplied by the respective boards. This may not be the ideal scenario, but what is impressive is last weekend’s visit to Kilkenny by the under-16 hurlers.
The Shane Fitzgibbon and Mike Galligan managed side travelled to Nowlan Park, where they were put through their paces in a number of drills by members of the Kilkenny senior hurling backroom team.
They also witnessed one of the famous Kilkenny training sessions and received a talk from Brian Cody.

Munster hurling special
RTE will broadcast a Sunday Game special this Sunday night and will feature a Munster Hurling Special as part of the continuing 125 year celebrations.
The show is to highlight many of the great moments that have made the Munster Hurling Championship so special, as well as previewing this year’s final between old rivals Waterford and Tipperary.
The feature will pay tribute to some of the legends of the game such as Limerick’s own Mick Mackey, Christy Ring and Jimmy Doyle, and along with many special guests there will also be a live studio audience for the very first time on The Sunday Game.
Marty Morrissey will be at Hayes Hotel providing a live link during the show and the programme will also announce just who is the top Munster hurler over the past 25 years.

Tipperary raise the bar
THE new Limerick GAA website is just up and running, but it appears that Tipperary are to raise the bar with a new online venture.
As part of the 125 year anniversary celebrations, a new Tipperary GAA archive web site is being prepared for launch this summer which will include a list of all players who have played for Tipperary from the minor grade upwards.
All clubs in the county were sent an e-mail last week with a list of the inter-county players from their club, to review and revert with any updates or omitted players.

Ballingarry star joins pack of Wolves

BALLINGARRY starlet Anthony Forde began pre-season training with Premier League newcomers Wolves this week - the 15-year-old departed west Limerick last weekend to join Mick McCarthy’s side at Molineux.

The underage Republic of Ireland international began training with the youths team and will also be eligible to play with the club’s under-16 side.
Due to his tender years, the central midfielder will not put pen to paper on a three-year deal until he turns 16 in November.
Anthony, who just sat his Junior Certificate in Colaiste na Trocaire Rathkeale, is a son of Noel and Christina and has one brother, Kevin and one sister, Leanne.
“We are all delighted - it’s great for Ballingarry AFC and for the Desmond League,” Anthony Forde’s father, Noel explained.
“He has played with Ballingarry since he was a little boy,” recalled his proud father, who himself lined out in the green and gold of their local club.
Anthony played at under-15 level for Ireland and has now won eight caps at U16 level.
Wolves’ new recruit first came to prominence as a 12-year-old when captaining the Desmond League side to a Munster final. A visit to Aston Villa followed while Blackburn, Reading, Plymouth and Derby have all expressed interest during the intervening years.
“We met with Mick McCarthy when we went over, but Anthony will be dealing mostly with the Academy managers,” explained his father.
“Anthony is staying with a local family over there.
“Another two lads from Donegal have joined this week as well and Anthony knows them from the international team so that is good for him.”
Also signing with Wolverhampton Wanderers this week was Irish international striker Kevin Doyle.
The arrival of Doyle from Reading, bolsters the Irish contingent that already includes Andy Keogh, Kevin Foley and Stephen Ward.
Anthony follows in the footsteps of Charleville’s Dominic Foley.
Foley was signed in 1995 by Wolves from St. James’s Gate, but he made just 27 appearances over four seasons at Molineux.
The 33-year-old striker now plays in Belgium with Cercle Brugge.
Ballingarry AFC chairman Paschal Moynihan was loud in praise of the club’s new hero.
“Anthony has been with us since he started to come to the field as a five-year-old and he has played with us all the way up along,” said the club chairman.
“This is fantastic for him and for our club.
“He is a very talented young fella and as well as that he is a lovely fella and has a great attitude.”
It also appears that Ballingarry could be about to offer Irish soccer another new international - 18-year-old Finntonio Yogue is a native of the world’s worst international side Montserrat, but is eligible for Ireland due to his grandmother Catherine Shanley from Ballingarry. The west Limerick woman moved to Montserrat to work as a nurse in 1940.
Now it appears her grandson is attracting the attention of Irish soccer bosses.
Finntonio Yogue plays with Italian side Udinese, but has been linked to a number of top clubs including Chelsea and Arsenal in recent weeks.
In Udinese the teenager is coached by Gianluca Torrotti who is an acquaintance of Irish boss Giovanni Trappatoni and assistant Marco Tardelli.
It is understood that Torotti has made the Irish management aware that a change of a FIFA ruling may allow Finntonio Yogue to line out for the Republic of Ireland.
A motion from the Algerian Football Association, removing the reference to the age limit, was passed by 58 per cent at the FIFA Congress, opening the way for many players to get a second chance in international football.
The rule change does not affect any player who has played for the full national team as they are barred from switching nations.
Yogue has already played twice for Montserrat, but both games were international friendlies.
“Finn has the ability to play soccer at the highest level and this has been proven by the many clubs that have been enquiring after him,” said Bradan Lifford, the coach who discovered Yogue.
“He’s had a good month, scoring in the Udinese run in to the Italian youth competitions, getting the international news and now the invite to Chelsea,” said Lifford.
It is believed that South Korea, Japan and Croatia have already been in touch with Yogue’s representatives to offer him a trial, but his Irish family background has the FAI monitoring the situation.

Jerome O’Connell

Stephen Kelly will start Sunday’s Munster final

MICKEY Ned O’Sullivan has selected the starting side that is entrusted with ending Limerick’s 113-year wait for a second Munster senior football championship title.
For Sunday’s final against Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh Stephen Kelly is selected for his first championship appearance of the season.

The speedy attacker will be looking to add a historic Munster SFC medal to the AIL title he won in Thomond Park in May with Shannon.
Kelly suffered a broken bone in his hand in that final win over Clontarf and the sporting all-rounder was forced to miss Limerick’s Munster championship wins over Tipperary and Clare. The Newcastle West man is now fully-recovered and has been named at full-forward in a direct swap with Jason Stokes in the only personal change.
Kelly is joined in attack by three under-21 players - Ian Ryan, Ger Collins and Cormac Joyce Power.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan and his backroom team selected from a full panel and it was always expected that Kelly would push for inclusion.
Na Piarsaigh’s Eoin Hogan has missed a number of training sessions with a broken metatarsal bone, but he is named among the substitutes and could be a vital replacement as he was in the semi-final win over Clare.
Cork manager Conor Counihan has selected Kieran O’Connor to come into the Cork team at left half-back in place of the suspended Noel O’Leary.
If Limerick are to spring the shock of the championship much will depend on the midfield pairing of John Galvin and Jim O’Donovan.
John Galvin is convinced that Limerick can be a match for red-hot favourites Cork.
“We are going into the lions den as they say and Cork are playing really well down there - the truth is when we do perform we can compete with most teams in the country,” said Galvin.
“I want to enjoy getting to a Munster final, but I don’t want to get overwhelmed by the whole thing. Win, lose or draw we will know where we stand and so will the rest of the country.”
The bookies make Limerick firm outsiders, but Galvin insists that just slight improvements are needed.
“The problem with us is our lack of consistency - we played well against Tipperary for 30 minutes and then switched off for 30 minutes and we let them back into it.
“If we go out and give a 70 minutes performance, who knows.”
Tickets for Sunday’s provincial final are available from the clubs throughout the county and are also available to purchase from all Ticketmaster outlets. A public sale of tickets will take place tonight in the Gaelic Grounds between 5.00-8.00pm.
Tickets will cost €35 for adults to the uncovered stand, €30 for adults to the covered stand and €20 to the terrace.
Juveniles can purchase tickets for €5 to either of the stands. Student terrace tickets are available through the participating county boards for €15.
Senior Citizens can obtain a refund of €10 on full priced stand tickets at designated turnstiles on production of valid ID prior to entering the stadium.
Sunday’s final has a 2.00pm start in Pairc Ui Chaoimh and will be televised live on TV3. The curtain-raiser will be the Munster minor football final at 12 noon which will involve Tipperary and Kerry.

Limerick: Sean Kiely; Johnny McCarthy, Shane Gallagher, Mark O’Riordan; Stephen Lavin, Stephen Lucey, Pa Ranahan; John Galvin, Jim O’Donovan; Padraig Browne, Cormac Joyce-Power, Seanie Buckley (capt); Ger Collins, Stephen Kelly, Ian Ryan.

Cork: Alan Quirke; Ray Carey, Michael Shields, Anthony Lynch; John Miskella, Graham Canty, Kieran O’Connor; Alan O’Connor, Nicholas Murphy; Paddy Kelly, Pierce O’Neill, Paul Kerrigan; Daniel Goulding, James Masters, Donnacha O’Connor.

Jerome O'Connell

Limerick FC make a welcome return to league action

WHILE Limerick FC maintain their push for vital funds Pat Scully’s side return to action on Thursday night (8pm) when the Super Blues make the arduous trip to Monaghan.
Following on from the recent uncertainty surrounding the club Super Blues supporters will be thrilled to see Limerick FC return to action in the League of Ireland First Division.
There is also good news on the acquisitions front with Conor Molan signing for Limerick, a move which will significantly bolster the team - a fans’ favorite through his previous season with the Super Blues Conor has returned having spent last year playing in Australia where he was named Player of the Year with the Whittlesea Zebras. Molan, who is waiting on his international clearance, will not be eligible to play on Thursday night.
Sadly Limerick FC have announced that talented youngster Stephen Goggin has left the club by mutual consent. The club would like to thank Stephen for his efforts and wish him all the best in the future.
Limerick will be targeting all three points against Monaghan in an effort to make amends for the two consecutive defeats suffered against St. Patrick’s Athletic (FAI Cup) and Shelbourne in the league. Limerick’s next home game is against the Wexford Youths on Friday, July 10 (7.45pm) at Jackman Park.
Pat Scully will have to plan for Thursday night’s game without captain Pat Purcell (knee ligaments) and Ian Storan who is suffering with a back injury. Jamie Wunsch is expected to have a scan on a knee injury suffered against Shelbourne while Paul Cummins (ankle) and Thomas Lyons (knee) are also out of contention for a starting place.
The club would like to notify supporters that the Limerick FC Supporters’ Club will hold a general meeting on Friday, July 3 at 7.30pm upstairs in the Riddler’s Bar. All members are urged to attend while new members are most welcome.
There are still places available in Limerick FC’s summer camp which takes place in Abbey Rovers FC, Corbally next week from Monday, July 6 to Friday, July 10. The camps are for both boys and girls aged between four and 12-years-old and run from 10am to 3pm each day. Cost per child is €90 and this includes a full Limerick FC playing kit.
For information on all Limerick FC summer camps which will take place in a number of venues across the mid-west or if you’d like to book a place for your child then you can contact the lads on 085 130 5752 or 086 301 9408 or by emailing You can also contact the club on 061 324 563 - keep up to date with all the news from the club by logging on to
Corporate box tickets with ex-Irish international guest speakers are available from Limerick FC for the upcoming Republic of Ireland internationals in Thomond Park against South Africa and Australia. Season tickets are also available from the club - contact Limerick on 061 324 563 or
Meanwhile Limerick FC maintain their fundraising drive by focusing their efforts on attracting supporters to Leo’s Lottery (€21 per month).
If you are prepared to make a contribution to Limerick FC or wish to join Leo’s Lottery please contact the Super Blues on 061 324 563 or 085 769 4324.
Alternatively you can visit for more information or to download the forms required to join Leo’s Lottery or pledge money to the League of Ireland club.

Brian McDonnell

McGeechan calls for time

BRITISH & Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has launched a plea for the tourists to be given the time to prepare properly for future tours so they can remain competitive.
McGeechan believes the current trip to South Africa has resulted in ‘some of the best rugby ever,’ despite his side’s series defeat - the Lions complete their three-match Test series against South Africa Johannesburg on Saturday (2pm).
McGeechan said officials from the home unions and domestic competitions must adjust the season to assist the Lions in future tours.
McGeechan would like to see the Lions given the same priority as a World Cup.
“If they give the Lions a fair crack, the Test series will always be very meaningful,” McGeechan said.
“I just wish more of these people who don’t want to make time for the Lions would actually come out and experience a tour. I don’t think they understand the impact. For the players they represent, they should make it work. If you speak to any player in Britain and Ireland, this is where they want to be and the jersey they want to wear.
“Somehow, going forward, they have got to make that easier to happen and if you do that you will probably make the preparation easier to win a Test series.
“That is to everybody’s advantage, whether it is Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. The two biggest things in the international calendar are the World Cup and Lions tours. If we could respect that, the preparation would help the next coach.”
Meanwhile, injured centre Brian O’Driscoll has described Peter De Villiers as a ‘disgrace’ for defending Schalk Burger in the wake of the eye-gouging incident during last weekend’s second Test.
De Villiers did eventually apologise for Burger’s actions and the flanker was suspended for eight weeks.

Colm Kinsella