Wednesday, October 28, 2009

McCarthy: ‘We need to make amends’

JUSTIN McCarthy is under no illusions but that his Limerick senior hurling team have to “make amends” in 2010 for their All-Ireland semi-final collapse to Tipperary this August - the draw for next year’s Munster championship has handed Limerick a bye into the provincial semi-final, where they await either Tipperary or Cork in mid June.


The draw was made in Croke Park last week by Munster Council chairman Jimmy O’Gorman and assistant secretary Enda McGuane.
“In the Munster championship there are no easy teams,” Justin McCarthy told Leader Sport.
“Any of the teams are capable of winning a Munster championship. It is going to be a huge challenge, but it is one that we have to be ready for.
“Cork and Tipperary are two outstanding teams. Cork will be trying to regroup and this will be a big showdown for them with Tipperary,” said the Limerick manager.
“We need to make amends for this year and show where we stand.
“I felt we made a fair bit of progress this year, but that wasn’t reflected in the Tipperary game.”
On the opposite side of the draw Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford will play his native Clare in the semi-final and this is a fixture that Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds will vie with Thurles to host.
Semple Stadium will host any potential semi-final between Limerick and Tipperary while if Cork are to be Limerick’s opponents the game would be played in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Limerick last met Tipperary in the provincial championship in 2007 when Richie Bennis’ side won the final instalment of the ‘trilogy’ in the Gaelic Grounds.
The last Munster championship encounter with Cork was in Limerick in 2004 when the Rebels were 0-19 to 0-18 winners.

Gaelic football
Meanwhile in the 2010 Munster senior football championship Limerick have been handed what is perceived to be the best draw possible as they await either Clare or Waterford in the semi-final. On the other side All-Ireland champions Kerry must overcome Tipperary to set up a semi-final with Cork.
Limerick will have home advantage in the semi-final in mid-June.
At a meeting of Limerick’s Football Board this Monday night in the Woodlands House Hotel, the reappointment of Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as county football manager moved a step closer when the Kerryman was given the backing of the football delegates. Mickey Ned’s appointment for a further one-year term will now need to be rubber stamped at a full County Board meeting.
Returning alongside the Kenmare man will be coach Donie Buckley and selectors Joe Redington and Paddy Ivess.
Joining the senior backroom team for 2010 is Maurice Horan.
The former Mayo and Limerick senior footballer is to become a senior selector and manager of the county under-21 side.
Horan transferred to Monaleen in 2004 from his native Ballinrobe.
He has experience of coaching the UL Sigerson Cup team and this year was involved as a player-coach with the Na Piarsaigh side that was defeated by St. Patrick’s in last weekend’s county intermediate football championship final.
As manager of the county under-21 side Maurice Horan will be joined by selectors Niall Crowley (Adare) and John Ryan (Oola).

Jerome O’Connell

Board meeting will examine club championship

A specially convened County Board meeting takes place this Thursday night to re-structure the county senior hurling championship.
The proposed new structure involves the introduction of a group system (four groups of four which includes a divisional side) where each team plays each other once with the previous year’s county semi finalists seeded. The top two teams in each group progress to the county quarter-finals where group winners will be seeded while the bottom two sides in each group contest the ‘County
Senior Cup’ (an open draw knockout competition) - the final of the newly-introduced County Senior Cup would be played as a curtain-raiser to the county senior or intermediate final. Teams that lose the first round of the County Senior Cup would then enter the relegation semi-finals.
Additionally it has been proposed that the group stage of the championship be concluded the week before senior inter-county championship break (third week in June to first or second week in August).
It has also been proposed that the All-County Leagues would begin much later in the year and run during the inter-county championship break.
The introduction of the ‘mid-season break’ is one of the more controversial elements of the new structure.
Club delegates will be asked to vote on the proposed changes - what happens if the delegates dont accept the new structures is unknown. The proposals come from a sub committee comprising of County Board chairman Liam Lenihan, County Board secretary Mike O’Riordan, County Board vice-chairman Mickey O’Sullivan, Olive Mann (Patrickswell), John O’Brien (Claughaun) and Val Moloney (Kilmallock).

Croke Park ruling
CROKE Park is to deliver two rulings to Limerick GAA officials ahead of the Annual Convention on December 7.
Limerick could yet be left without a Development Officer. Eibhear O’Dea is to step down from the role and earlier this month Tim Ryan (Crecora) was the only candidate nominated for the position.
However, Ryan already served in the position (prior to O’Dea) for five years and his eligibility is to be clarified by Croke Park.
The eligibility of Mike O’Riordan to stand for the position of Munster Council delegate has also been queried to GAA headquarters.
O’Riordan is one of five nominated for the two positions. However, as a full-time paid official of Limerick GAA, it is unknown if he is eligible to stand for the position.
Also nominated are Oola’s Denis Holmes, Mungret’s Donal Fitzgibbon, Eddie Wade of South Liberties and Patrickswell’s Oliver Mann.
It’s unclear if Fitzgibbon and Wade are to allow their names go forward for election.
Elsewhere, both Ger O’Connell (Pallasgreen) and Eamonn Phelan (St Patrick’s) have been nominated to run against current PRO Helen Cross (Ahane).

Minor hurling
LIMERICK’S minor hurling management begin their quest for 2010 success this Saturday with the first round of the County under-17 inter-divisional championship.
In Bruff, the East division play the West at 2.00, while at 3.30 the South face the City.
Ger Hegarty continues as minor manager for a second year and will be joined by selectors Brian Begley, George Lee and Paul Finn.

Jerome O’Connell

Stuttering Munster hope for home comfort

STUTTERING Munster will be hoping that the home comforts of playing at Thomond Park can inspire them to a much-needed Magners League victory over high-flying Ulster this Saturday (5pm).
Out-of-sorts Munster have lost three of their last four fixtures, all away from home, and Tony McGahan’s men are badly in need of a timely boost before the Magners League takes a five-week break during the autumn internationals.
While Munster have struggled on the road in recent weeks, the province boasts an impressive home record, winning their last 10 home fixtures at Thomond Park and Musgrave Park.
While Munster lie in sixth place in the Magners League table, Saturday’s opponents Ulster jumped to top spot with a gritty victory over Leinster at Ravenhill on Saturday.
Munster back-row forward David Wallace accepted that it had been a difficult month for the squad. He also feels that individual errors had contributed to the side’s disappointing run of results in recent weeks.
Wallace, a tryscorer in Munster’s defeat by Edinburgh last weekend said: “It has been a tough month. Certainly from the Edinburgh game, we didn’t play well, but we still felt that we let a couple if chances just slip. We were putting ourselves in a position to win the game, but we didn’t do it.
“We did not play as well as we wanted to, but we were still there or there abouts. If a few things had gone our way, we could have won.
“I think the Leinster game was very disappointing. We all felt very upset after that match. We were well beaten. But we have not been playing extremely poorly.
“At times, we have been playing well. At times, maybe it has been in fits and bursts and not as constant or consistent as we would have liked it to be.
“We have been making individual errors which has been setting us back and letting teams back into games. We can take a lot from the game the last day against Edinburgh. We felt we played poorly, but were still within a score at the end of the game. We are happy with what we want to do. It’s a question of going out and doing it. Everyone has to raise the bar a little bit more. Hopefully, that will happen next weekend.
“There have been a couple of sub par performances. Everyone is convinced we can go that bit further and we are too and raise it. That is the plan. Ulster coming down this weekend is a big challenge. They are going very, very well. We had a tough game down here in Thomond Park last season and we really want to put it right. They have good players coming through, but so do we.
“I suppose whatever XV goes out there and whoever wants it more will walk away with the goods. We are thinking about producing a good, positive performance, winning, winning playing good rugby and playing like we know we can. That is the gameplan.”
Munster coach Tony McGahan has limited options in the front-row ahead of Saturday evening’s game and must again plan without Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Dave Ryan and the suspended John Hayes.
Prop Horan, who has been named in the Irish squad for the autumn internationals, was forced off in the Heineken Cup win over Treviso after reporting feeling unwell.
Munster manager Shaun Payne said the 32-year-old had a viral infection and suffered bouts of dizziness. Horan is having further tests.
Tony Buckley will be sidelined for a couple of weeks with a calf injury, while Dave Ryan has had an operation on his elbow and could be out of action for up to 12 weeks.
Jerry Flannery took a limited part in training in this week, but is not included in the Munster squad for the Ulster game. However, the hooker is named in the Irish squad for the autumn internationals. Jeremy Manning has had a shoulder operation and will be sidelined for 12 to 16 weeks.
Alan Quinlan, rested against Edinburgh last week returns to the squad. Doug Howlett is again ruled out of the threequarter line where there’s a recall for fit again Barry Murphy.

Munster squad v Ulster: Felix Jones, Keith Earls, Barry Murphy, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary, Nick Williams, David Wallace, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy, Alan Quinlan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Damian Varley, Denis Fogarty, AN Other, Stephen Archer, Julien Brugnaut and Darragh Hurley.

Colm Kinsella

Cronin - one of six uncapped players named in Irish squad

LIMERICK hooker Sean Cronin is one of nine uncapped players included in Irish coach Declan Kidney’s 39-man squad for the upcoming autumn internationals.
Former Shannon and current Connacht hooker Cronin impressed for the Ireland ‘A’ side in their successful Churchill Cup campaign last summer and could well earn his first full international cap against Australia, Fiji or World Champions South Africa in November.
The Ireland squad will gather in Limerick on Monday next for a week-long training camp.
An ‘A’ squad for an international game with Tonga in Ravenhill on Friday, November 13 and a 30 man squad for the Australia test match at Croke Park two days later will be announced at the end of next week’s Limerick camp.
Ireland will also play full internationals against Fiji at the RDS on November 21 and South Africa at Croke Park on November 28 as well as an ‘A’ international against the Argentina Jaguars in Tallaght on November 27.
Thirteen Munster players have been named in the 39 man Irish squad. Leinster’s Limerick-born scrum-half Eoin Reddan is also included in the extended squad.

Ireland squad: Tommy Bowe (Ospreys); Neil Best (Northampton Saints); Tony Buckley (Shannon-Munster); Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins-Ulster), Tom Court (Malone-Ulster), Sean Cronin (Buccaneers-Connacht)*, Leo Cullen (Blackrock College-Leinster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne-Leinster), Gavin Duffy (Galwegians-Connacht), Keith Earls (Young Munster-Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon-Ulster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College-Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon-Munster), John Fogarty (DLSP Palmerston-Leinster)*, John Hayes (Bruff-Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf-Leinster)*, Jamie Heaslip (Naas-Leinster), Chris Henry (Ballymena-Ulster)*, Marcus Horan (Shannon-Munster), Shane Horgan (Boyne-Leinster), Robert Kearney (UCD-Leinster), Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution-Munster), Fergus McFadden (UCD-Leinster)*, Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution-Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster-Munster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD-Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution-Munster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin-Munster), Sean O’Brien (Clontarf-Leinster)*, Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne-Leinster), Mike Ross (Clontarf-Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon-Munster), Jonathan Sexton (St.Mary’s College-Leinster)*, Peter Stringer (Shannon-Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne-Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena-Ulster), David Wallace (Garryowen-Munster), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena-Ulster), Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians-Connacht)*.
* - Denotes uncapped players.

Colm Kinsella

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quinlan: ‘Stick with us’

VETERAN flanker Alan Quinlan has urged Munster supporters ‘not to throw in the towel’ on the team in the wake of their poor run of form in recent weeks.
Quinlan issued his rallying call to the Red Army’s legion of supporters as Munster prepare for their crucial Magners League tie with Ulster at Thomond Park this Saturday (5pm).


Munster have lost three of their last four games in the Magners League and Heineken Cup and Alan Quinlan admits the poor run has dented the players’ confidence levels. However, 35-year-old Quinlan has urged Munster supporters to remain steadfast in their support of the team during this tricky spell. The players remain confident that they can help turnaround the team’s fortunes.
“When you are going bad, there is pressure from the press, the supporters as well as the internal pressure to perform because no one enjoys losing, even though we had a good result in the second half against Treviso,” Alan Quinlan said.
“We are around long enough to know that we are not playing well. That is not enjoyable. We are working hard to try and get back. I would ask people to stick with us and not to throw in the towel, feeling the team is finished, that we are underperforming and that there is no passion and no heart.
“You can’t go from the success we have had to suddenly, as a group, not trying or showing heart or passion.
“People are trying hard, but things have been going wrong for us and we have hit a bit of a wall. Hopefully, the supporters and genuine fans can stay behind us.
“We can be judged now by everyone and that is the nature of it, because we are a top team in Europe.
“Hopefully, we can be judged this year at the business end of the season. If we deserve criticism and flak then, so be it, but we are confident we can get back playing well. We are confident we will be in contention come the end of the season.
“Confidence has been dented by recent weeks. There is no point in saying otherwise. We are playing below standard and we know that, but we feel there is a lot more in us. We are still a very good team. We are probably under-performing as a unit. It is something we have to address and it is a challenge for us.
“Hopefully, we will come out stronger the other side of it. If we can get a good result on Saturday, then maybe the best thing is that the focus will be off us for a few weeks.
“We are in a bit of a pressure situation and that we can have a look at things.
“Coaches can go away and spend a few weeks looking at the way we are playing and try and improve things. The boys can play Test match rugby with Ireland and get that intensity up again. That will benefit the team.”
Munster will again be without Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Dave Ryan and the suspended John Hayes for the tie with table-toppers Ulster at Thomond Park on Halloween.
In the only change in the Munster squad from last weekend’s clash away to Edinburgh Barry Murphy replaces Doug Howlett, who is carrying a knock.
Meanwhile 13 Munster players have been included in a 39-man Irish panel for the upcoming Guinness Series of internationals in November against Australia, Fiji and South Africa. Leinster’s Limerick-born scrum-half Eoin Reddan and Connacht’s Limerick-born hooker Sean Cronin are also included in the squad which will gather in Limerick on Monday next for a training camp.
An A squad for a game against Tonga and a 30-man squad for the Australia Test match on November 15 will be announced at the end of the Limerick camp.
Ireland Squad (39): Tommy Bowe, Neil Best, Tony Buckley, Darren Cave, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Leo Cullen, Gordon D’Arcy, Gavin Duffy, Keith Earls, Stephen Ferris, Luke Fitzgerald, Jerry Flannery, John Fogarty, John Hayes, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry, Marcus Horan, Shane Horgan, Robert Kearney, Denis Leamy, Fergus McFadden, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary, Sean O’Brien, Eoin Reddan, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Jonathan Sexton, Peter Stringer, Devin Toner, Andrew Trimble, David Wallace, Paddy Wallace and Brett Wilkinson.
Munster squad v Ulster: Felix Jones, Keith Earls, Barry Murphy, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary, Nick Williams, David Wallace, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy, Alan Quinlan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Damian Varley, Denis Fogarty, AN Other, Stephen Archer, Julien Brugnaut, Darragh Hurley.

COLM KINSELLA

Trio set to thrill fans

FOR first time ever all three of Limerick’s professional boxers are set to appear on the same bill.
Earlier this month Andy Lee confirmed his 21st pro fight for the UL Sports Arena on November 14.
Leader Sport can now reveal that the 25-year-old Castleconnell middleweight will be joined on his undercard by fellow Limerick men Jamie Power and Willie Casey.
Lee, the US based southpaw, will headline the event when he takes on Frenchman Affif Belghecham on the Yanjing Fight Night.
Their opponents have yet to be confirmed, but Power and Casey will also fight in front of the passionate home crowd.
Power also fought on Lee’s undercard last year in Limerick in what was only his second pro fight.
The 28-year-old boxer from Norwood Park has since progressed his record to six wins from seven contests.
The ex-St. Francis amateur boxer lost his perfect record last month to Michael Sweeney, when they fought on the undercard of Bernard Dunne’s ill-fated WBA super bantamweight title defence against Thailand’s Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym in front of a capacity crowd of 9,000 spectators in Dublin’s O2.
For Casey it will be a first fight in front of his local supporters.
Just last Saturday night the 27-year-old featherweight recorded his second win. One year after his professional debut Casey was an impressive points winner over Bulgarian Stoyan Serbezov in the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin. The featherweight made his pro debut last October with a second round stoppage in the INEC in Killarney, however his career then stalled until last Friday night.
A former Irish intermediate featherweight champion, Casey is who is a former member of Our Lady of Lourdes Boxing Club and Southill Boxing Club, is being coached in Dublin by former Olympian and double European Championship bronze medal winner Phil Sutcliffe.
Now nicknamed ‘The Big Bang’, as an amateur Casey had up to a dozen fights with the Irish A team including bouts against fancied Russian and USA sides.
Further details of the undercard for the November 14 event will be confirmed in the coming days.
Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night, priced from €40, are on sale from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie).

JEROME O’CONNELL

McCarthy: ‘We need to make amends for this year’

JUSTIN McCarthy is under no illusions but that his Limerick senior hurling team have to “make amends” in 2010 for their All-Ireland semi-final collapse against Tipperary last August.


The draw for next year’s Munster championship has handed Limerick a bye into the provincial semi-final, where they await either Tipperary or Cork in mid-June. The draw was made in Croke Park last Thursday night by Munster Council chairman Jimmy O’Gorman and assistant secretary Enda McGuane.
“In the Munster championship there are no easy teams,” McCarthy told the Limerick Chronicle.
“Any of the teams are capable of winning a Munster championship.”
“It is going to be a huge challenge, but it is one that we have to be ready for.
“Cork and Tipperary are two outstanding teams. Cork will be trying to re-group and this will be a big showdown for them with Tipperary,” said the Limerick manager.
“We need to make amends for this year and show where we stand. I felt we made a fair bit of progress this year, but that wasn’t reflected in the Tipperary game.”
Already the search for fresh faces is underway for Justin McCarthy, Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey.
“We will hold a series of trial games and we’ll see what new players are available.
“We will give players every chance and I’d hope that these players would respond to the challenge.”
On the opposite side of the draw Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford will play his native Clare in the semi-final and this is a fixture that Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds will vie with Thurles to host.
Thurles will host any potential semi-final between Limerick and Tipperary while if Cork are to be Limerick’s opponents the game would be played in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Limerick last met Tipperary in the provincial championship in 2007 when Richie Bennis’ side won the final instalment of the ‘trilogy’ in the Gaelic Grounds.
The last Munster championship encounter with Cork was in Limerick in 2004 while the Rebels were 0-19 to 0-18 winners.
Meanwhile in the 2010 Munster senior football championship Limerick have been handed what is perceived to be the best draw possible as they await either Clare or Waterford in the semi-final.
On the other side All-Ireland champions Kerry must overcome Tipperary to set up a semi-final with Cork.
At a meeting of Limerick’s Football Board this Monday night in the Woodlands House Hotel the re-appointment of Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as county football manager moved a step closer when the Kerryman was given the backing of the football delegates.
Mickey Ned’s appointment will now need to be rubber stamped by a full County Board meeting - joining the senior backroom team for 2010 is Maurice Horan.
The former Mayo and Limerick senior footballer is to become a senior selector and manager of the county under-21 side. Horan transferred to Monaleen in 2004 from his native Ballinrobe.
He has experience of coaching the UL Sigerson Cup team and this year was involved with the Na Piarsaigh side that was defeated by St. Patrick’s in last weekend’s county intermediate football championship final.

Jerome O’Connell

Munster in line for top award


MUNSTER Rugby are in line to win a major international sports event management award for their staging of the Munster and All Blacks clash at Thomond Park in November of last year - Munster Rugby has been shortlisted in the Event Marketing category of the SportBusiness Sports Event Management Awards which will be presented at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on November 10.
The shortlist also includes the organisers of the Aviva London Grand Prix and the ICC World Twenty20 Cricket.
As only three events have been shortlisted in this category Munster Rugby await confirmation of whether they have won the gold, silver or bronze award. Celebrating best practice and achievement, the SportsBusiness Sports Event Management awards recognise excellence in the global sports event management industry.
Last year’s awards were dominated by the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games with other nominees this year including the Indian Premier League, the WTA Tour Championships, ICC World Twenty20, The Wimbledon Championships and the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Munster Rugby CEO, Garrett Fitzgerald said the award was a huge acknowledgement of the efforts and hard work of everyone involved: “To be recognised with an international sports event management award is a testimony of how Munster Rugby strives for excellence off the field as well as on.
“It was a wonderful occasion with thanks due to all our sponsors. It was a real honour for us to host the All Blacks in Thomond Park who are such an iconic brand in world rugby.”
Paul Dalton, Commercial Manager of the New Zealand Rugby Union said that the match against Munster had been ‘an incredible experience for the All Blacks’.
“The 30th anniversary of a very important piece of rugby history with many of those original players present, the new stadium opening, the huge build-up over the week, the then Heineken Cup champions against the number one team in the world, the intense pressure on both teams and the amazing crowd,” Paul Dalton said.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience and the rugby lived up to it!”
Meanwhile Tony McGahan’s stuttering Munster side will be hoping to avoid a Halloween horror when they host Ulster in a crunch Magners League tie at Thomond Park this Saturday (5pm). Munster will be hoping to bounce back from their hugely disappointing defeat at the hands of Edinburgh on Friday last when they face table toppers Ulster this weekend.
Sixth-placed Munster currently trail in-form Ulster by five points in the Magners League after six series of games. In the corresponding fixture last season Ulster recorded a runaway 37-11 victory at Thomond Park.
And earlier last season it was Ulster who ended Munster’s five-game winning start in the Magners League.
Following Saturday’s game, the Magners League will take a five-week break as the autumn internationals take centre stage. Munster’s will resume their League programme away to the Ospreys on Saturday, December 5.

Colm Kinsella

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Limerick face potential re-match with Tipp

LIMERICK face a potential re-match with Tipperary in next summer’s Munster hurling championship - following the draw made in Croke Park on Thursday night (October 22) Cork were drawn against Tipperary in a quarter-final while the Shannonsiders will await the winner of that game in a Munster semi-final. On the opposite side of the draw Clare will play Waterford with a place in the 2010 Munster hurling final up for grabs.
Justin McCarthy’s Limerick men lost heavily to Tipperary in last August’s disappointing All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park while the Shannonsiders last faced Cork in a 2006 All-Ireland quarter-final which the Rebels won 0-19 to 0-18.


The Limerick footballers will be thrilled with their draw for the 2010 Munster championship. The Shannonsiders have been drawn in a semi-final and await the winners of the Clare v Waterford first round clash. Kerry will play Tipperary on the other side of the draw with Cork awaiting the winners of that game at the semi-final stage.
Limerick will be favoured strongly by the bookies to qualify for the provincial final.
The dates, times and venues for all the provincial games will be confirmed by the Munster Council in due course.
Meanwhile the Leinster hurling championship draw will see Carlow take on Laois in the preliminary round. The winner of that game will face Dublin in a quarter-final with the respective winner of that game taking on Kilkenny in the semi-finals.
On the opposite side of the draw Wexford will take on Galway while Antrim face Offaly - the winners of those games will constitute a second Leinster semi-final.
Three other provincial football draws also took place in Croke Park.
In the Connacht semi-finals New York or Galway will face Sligo or Mayo while the second semi-final will see London or Roscommon take on Leitrim.
Derry will take on Armagh in the first round of the Ulster championship while the quarter-final line-up reads as follows: Antrim v Tyrone, Donegal v Down, Cavan v Fermanagh and Monaghan v the winner of the Derry-Armagh clash.
Finally the Leinster championship quarter-finals will see Kildare take on the winner of a Louth-Longford clash, Westmeath will face the winner of Wicklow-Carlow, Laois the winner of Meath-Offaly while the final quarter-final will see Wexford take on Dublin.

Brian McDonnell

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gaelic Grounds hosts inter-pros

The Gaelic Grounds will host an inviting inter-provincial football semi-final between Munster and Connacht on Saturday night next under lights (throw-in 7.30pm) while the final will be held in Ruislip, London a fortnight later (November 8, 2pm).
The corresponding semi-final will be held in Crossmaglen on Saturday which sees Ulster face Leinster.


The Munster team is managed by Gerry O’Sullivan (Cork) while Sean McAuliffe (Hospital-Herbertstown) is a selector with the provincial side. It is hoped that a number of Limerick players will feature on the Munster team this Saturday evening.
Munster have only won the inter-provincial series three times since 1982, but enter this year’s competition as the reigning champions since they claimed their first title in nine years at Portlaoise last November with victory over Connacht.
Meanwhile the GAA and RTÉ have confirmed that the draw for the 2010 GAA football and hurling championships will be screened live on RTÉ on Thursday (October 22) evening at 8.25pm.

All Stars
Although three Limerick players (Seamus Hickey, Mark Foley & Gavin O’Mahony) were nominated for hurling All Star awards not one of that trio made the final selection.
Both John Galvin and Johnny McCarthy were nominated for football All Stars, but, unfortunately, neither made the final team.

25-Year Teams
The Gala Ceremony to mark Limerick’s 25-year teams will take place on Friday, November 6 in the Strand Hotel - festivities begin at 7pm.
A four-course meal will be served to those in attendance while music will be provided by Nightfall. Tickets for the event cost €30 (all profits in aid of Milford Hospice) and are available from Helen Cross at the Gaelic Grounds - Monday to Friday (9.30am to 5.30pm).

GAA Yearbook
Limerick GAA will this year publish a yearbook on the happenings for the year past.
The book will feature many articles of interest to both the young and old. Material for the publication is currently being assembled and the County Board are seeking contributions from Limerick gaels.
In particular the yearbook editors are looking for photographs of club or county teams, action shots or old GAA pictures that will add character to the publication.
Since 2009 represents the 125th anniversary of the GAA quite an emphasis has been placed on producing the book.
It will contain a number of articles of historical interest while the Limerick GAA year will also be reviewed. The editors are expecting that the book, which will be published in full colour throughout, will reach well over 250 pages.
All the clubs of the county have already been asked to make a contribution on their clubs activities for the year gone and to also submit photos, one old and three current pictures. But if you feel you that you have a photograph that would be of interest to the editors, whether it be current or from years of the past, then please send them onto limerickgaayearbook09@gmail.com
If you have any questions or queries on the publication or if you wish to help out in anyway then contact this email address or get in contact with Liam Lenihan, chairperson of Limerick GAA.
The deadline for the submission of photographs and articles is November 1. The yearbook will be ready and on general sale to the public for Friday, December 4.

Clarification
Leader Sport would like to clarify that a recent Football Board meeting was not cancelled as direct result of Billy Lee’s decision to turn down the opportunity to manage the under-21 football team.
The meeting in question was convened to allow club delegates the opportunity to ratify Mickey Ned O’Sullivan and his management team for a fifth consecutive year.
The Football Board plan to include the under-21 football manager on the senior management team as a selector - since the board did not have an individual to nominate as under-21 manager they then did not have a senior management team to bring before the football board delegates and the meeting was called off.

Brian McDonnell

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Munster will miss Marcus Horan and Tony Buckley

MUNSTER must plan without experienced props Tony Buckley and Marcus Horan for next Friday night’s big Magners League clash with Edinburgh in Murrayfield, but are holding out hope that winger Doug Howlett could be fit to play in the crucial round six tie (8pm).


Prop Tony Buckley, who picked up a calf muscle injury against Treviso last weekend, is also doubtful for the home Magners League game against Ulster on Saturday, October 31.
Munster manager Shaun Payne explained that Marcus Horan would be having tests in Dublin this week having reported feeling unwell in the opening half of Saturday’s Heineken Cup pool one game at Thomond Park.
With another prop Dave Ryan also unavailable due to an elbow injury and John Hayes suspended Munster are left with two contracted props to call on - Darragh Hurley and Julien Brugnaut.
Stephen Archer, a member of the Munster Academy, has been included in the extended 26-man squad for the trip to Scotland. An additional prop will also be added, with the vacancy likely to be filled by Pa O’Regan or David Kilcoyne, who scored a try for the Munster A side in their victory over Leinster A in Clonmel last week.
Doug Howlett has also been included in squad for the game againsts Edinburgh despite picking up a hamstring injury at the weekend.
Shaun Payne has rated Doug Howlett’s chances of featuring at Murrayfield this Friday night as “50/50 at this stage”.
Felix Jones has also returned to the squad for the round six Magners League game.
Asked about the early difficulties Munster had experienced in the scrum against Treviso Payne said: “Yes, the first few scrums weren’t good, but you must remember Marcus (Horan) wasn’t himself obviously and once it settled down, I thought it went well. Don’t forget what that Treviso pack did to Perpignan the previous week.
“As well as that, in the Perpignan-Northampton game, in the early stages, Perpignan destroyed the Saints pack. But as the game went on they (Saints) settled down and were able to gain parity.
“The injuries to the props provides an opportunity for others.
“Julien Brugnaut is an experienced prop and I thought Darragh (Hurley) did extremely well when he came. And that’s always difficult. So now both have an opportunity.
“Of course you don’t like to be without your front line players, but we have the back up.”
Munster trained in Cork yesterday and fly out to Edinburgh tomorrow evening - Munster’s starting XV for the game will be announced at lunch time tomorrow.
In relation to the clash with Edinburgh Payne said: “We will be looking to move forward this weekend. We are a work in progress this season.
“We are improving each week and will be looking to improve on our performance against Treviso.
“Traditionally, we have done quite well in Edinburgh, although the games have tended to be very close.
“Looking at Edinburgh this season, they are a well-drilled, decent outfit. They have been playing well.
“It is a tough one on Friday night, a six day turnaround from our last game.”

Munster squad v Edinburgh: Felix Jones, Keith Earls, Doug Howlett, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary, Nick Williams, David Wallace, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy, Alan Quinlan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Damian Varley, Denis Fogarty, AN Other, Stephen Archer, Julien Brugnaut, Darragh Hurley.

Colm Kinsella

Sporting see off Limerick

DESPITE a spirited performance Limerick FC stumbled to their 13th league defeat of the season when the Super Blues lost two-one to Sporting Fingal in the Morton Stadium, Dublin on Tuesday night.
Sporting Fingal, still chasing title honours, began in determined mood and almost forced the breakthrough on a number of occasions before Limerick’s Robbie Kelleher came close in the 35th minute.
Sporting settled back down to their task however and in the 41st minute Gary O’Neill gave the home side the lead following a stunning move.
Limerick started the second half well, but were undone in the 50th minute when Alan Kirby and Conan Byrne combined to create an opportunity for Eamon Zayed who made no mistake from close range.
Limerick almost responded right from the kick off, but Stephen O’Flynn’s shot from a tight angle hit a post. The Super Blues finally got a deserved goal in the 73rd minute when John Tierney was pulled down for a penalty and Stephen O’Flynn converted the resultant spot kick.
Sporting Fingal managed to hold off Limerick for the remaining minutes and duly collected all three points.
Limerick FC: David Ryan, John Boyle, Martin Deady, Pat Purcell, Gavin Roche, Wayne Colbert, Daryl Kavanagh, Bobby Tier, Robbie Kelleher, Stephen O’Flynn, Shane Tracy.
Subs: Jason Hughes for Bobby Tier, John Tierney for Robbie Kelleher, Davy Ryan for Shane Tracy.
Limerick FC will play Finn Harps at Jackman Park on Friday, October 30 (7.45pm) in their final home game of the season while they will complete their league programme away to Longford Town on Saturday, November 7 (kick-off 7.45pm).
Meanwhile tickets are selling fast for Limerick FC’s upcoming exhibition match against the Liverpool Legends at Jackman Park on Sunday, November 1 (5pm). Tickets for the exhibition match against the Liverpool Legends are available from Limerick FC, ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster outlets.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Munster prepare for two critical Magners League clashes

MUNSTER may have put their Heineken Cup campaign on hold until December, but the Magners League champions face two critical fixtures over the coming weeks.
First up for coach Tony McGahan’s Munster side is an arduous visit to Murrayfield this Friday night to face Edinburgh (8pm).
And Munster will be hoping to avoid a ‘Halloween Horror’ when second-placed Ulster visit Thomond Park on Saturday, October 31 at 5pm - Ulster inflicted an embarrassing 37-11 defeat on Munster when they met at the Limerick venue last season.
Munster travel to Scotland with a serious shortage of experienced props - John Hayes is suspended while Tony Buckley and Marcus Horan were both forced off early in the province’s heineken Cup pool one victory over Treviso at the weekend.
Buckley is struggling with a calf injury while Horan complained of feeling dizzy during the course of Saturday’s game and has been under-going tests. Munster have now just three fully fit props to call upon - French international Julien Brugnaut, the fit-again Darragh Hurley, both of whom saw action as replacements in the 41-10 win over the Italians, and former Ireland under-20 international and current Munster academy member Stephen Archer who impressed for the Munster A side in their match with Leinster on Friday night.
Munster will also have to plan without the services of Kiwi winger Doug Howlett for Friday night’s clash with fourth-placed Edinburgh as he is troubled by a hamstring injury.


Following the crucial games against Edinburgh and Ulster, Munster will have a five-week break from Magners League action while up to 22 members of the squad will be involved in full and A international action with Ireland.
Coach Tony McGahan explained: “We are playing Edinburgh and Ulster, two sides above us in the Magners League table over the next few weekends. Points taken from those two games will be vital with a view to marching up the league table.
“You go into a four-week break with probably between 11 and 13 players involved with the national squad plus two A internationals which could take another seven to eight players.
“So we could be without 22 players for a four-week period. Again we need to deal with that. We need to ensure the guys are back working hard when we come back.
“We go to the Ospreys in the Magners League in the first weekend in December and then round three and round four of the Heineken Cup. What we do at the beginning of that week will set us up for a three-week block.”
Meanwhile the holders Munster made the best possible start to the IRFU women’s inter-provincial championship when securing a highly impressive 46-0 win over Ulster at Thomond Park. Playing under floodlights and at the new Thomond Park for the first time, Munster sparkled and inspired by Limerick captain Joy Neville (UL Bohemian) ran in seven tries in all against the visitors.
Irish star Neville scored one of Munster’s tries, while her UL Bohemian club mate Patrique Kelly and Shannon’s Amanda Greensmith also crossed for touchdowns.
Fixtures to come: Munster v Leinster, Ballincollig RFC, October 31, 2.30pm. Connacht v Munster, The Sportsground, November 14, 2pm. Finals: Donnybrook, November 29.

Colm Kinsella

Monday, October 19, 2009

Adare leave Na Piarsaigh dream in tatters

NA Piarsaigh’s dream of winning a first ever county senior hurling title was left in tatters on Sunday afternoon when an imperious Adare side handed Timmy O’Connor’s men a 17-point beating.
Off the back of an utterly dominant performance Adare collected their fifth county title this decade (2001-02 & 2007-09) and were more than worthy winners of their third consecutive county title in-a-row.
A huge roar greeted the Na Piarsaigh lads when they emerged onto the field, but it was clear that Timmy O’Connor’s men were well out of their depth by the half time interval - at that juncture Adare led 1-7 to a single point.


In the aftermath of such a heart-breaking defeat manager Timmy O’Connor tried to put into words how his Na Piarsaigh players were feeling: “we’re absolutely gutted. We know we didn’t perform anywhere near where we’d hoped to perform.
“We thought we had the team in good order there today, but obviously the occasion probably got to them.”
There was consolation however for O’Connor in that his side didn’t do themselves justice and that they can learn from this harrowing experience: “Adare are there a long time, they’re hurling senior a long, long time and we’re only up senior since ’94. They’ve won five seniors in this decade which is a tremendous achievement, but our underage structure, hopefully, will pay off dividends eventually.
“We’ve a lot of young lads on that team and there’s a lot of good young players coming through.
“So the future looks bright for Na Piarsaigh. It didn’t happen today, but hopefully it will happen in the future.
“I felt gutted for fellas like Shane O’Neill and Damien Quigley.
“I feel particularly sorry for lads like that who had hurled for the last 20 years at various levels for the club, but we’ll be back again.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Drom-Broadford enjoyed a 0-9 to 0-7 win over Fr. Casey’s in the re-fixed county senior football final.
Although Drom-Broadford came away with a two-point win there was no shame in defeat for a Fr. Casey’s side who gave it everything.
Indeed, when Robert Browne left the sides all square at 0-7 apiece with a wonderful right-footed effort in the 55th minute a dramatic win for the Abbeyfeale men looked entirely possible. Drom-Broadford had proven the more accomplished outfit during the entire course of the game, but with time running out Fr. Casey’s looked the fresher side and the better bet. The champions however, thanks to two brilliant Garrett Noonan points, successfully defended their county title.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Munster’s bonus point win comes at a cost

MUNSTER’S bonus point win over Benetton Treviso in the Heineken Cup came at a cost as winger Doug Howlett is set to miss this Friday night’s Magners League clash with Edinburgh while serious doubts surround the participation of props Tony Buckley and Marcus Horan in the Murrayfield clash.


Kiwi Doug Howlett, who endeared himself further to Munster supporters when playing through the pain barrier in scrambling back to prevent a certain Treviso try in the opening half of Saturday’s game while clearly struggling with a hamstring injury, is set to miss out on the trip to Murrayfield. Tony Buckley will have a scan today to determine the extent of the damage to a calf muscle injury while fellow prop Marcus Horan is set to have further tests today after complaining of feeling dizzy during the course of Saturday’s 41-10 victory over Benetton Treviso.
The uncertainty over Buckley and Horan’s availability for the key clash with Edinburgh is a major blow with veteran prop John Hayes already sidelined through suspension.
Munster struggled in the scrums early on against an all-international Treviso front row, but the home side’s line-out did provide a source of good quality ball.
Munster assumed top spot in pool one of the Heineken Cup with a seven-try, bonus point, win over the Italians.
Munster skipper Paul O’Connell, who celebrated his 50th appearance in the Heineken Cup on Saturday, said the complexion of the group would become clearer following the back-to-back fixtures with French champions Perpignan in December. In the meantime, Munster would face key Magners League games.
O’Connell, who celebrates his 30th birthday tomorrow said: “The group is very evenly placed now with all teams having won one and lost one game. The back-to-back matches against Perpignan in December will be a massive for us.
“We have two games now in the Magners League, against Edinburgh and Ulster, two sides ahead of us in the table.
“It is very important for us to start playing with a bit more consistency now. Last week against Northampton we showed signs of it and this week there were further signs of it again. We need to keep improving and keep a high work rate in our performance. We need to keep it direct and simple. When we do the simple things well we actually look like we are playing fancy rugby.”
Munster full-back Paul Warwick, who scored his side’s opening try and claimed the Man of the Match accolade, said the provincial side remained a ‘work in progress.’
“We are certainly improving,” Paul Warwick said.
“It is a slow process obviously. In terms of that game we knew that if we were doing the right things at the 60-minute mark we could wear them down.
“People were talking about a shock result at half time and things like that. We did not have any panic. We knew they would pose a good threat to us across the field and they really stuck it to us.
“They took the opportunities and capitalised on a lot of our mistakes.
“When they got 10 points up, there was no panic.
“We felt that if we concentrated on our own game and were a bit more direct that we had been we could wear them down.
“The performance was a step in the right direction.
“There are facets of the game which were good and areas which need a lot of improvement. We are confident we are heading in the right direction, but are still a work in progress.”

COLM KINSELLA

Limerick travel to face Fingal

FOLLOWING their highly-impressive two-one win over Waterford United at Jackman Park on Friday night Pat Scully’s Super Blues are back in action on Tuesday night when they face third-placed Sporting Fingal at the Morton Stadium in Santry (kick-off 7.45pm).
The game was originally scheduled to take place on Friday, October 23, but Limerick FC accommodated an alteration in the view of Sporting Fingal’s FAI Ford Cup semi-final against Bray Wanderers on Sunday, October 25.
After encountering Sporting Fingal Limerick FC will play Finn Harps at Jackman Park on Friday, October 30 (7.45pm) in their final home game of the season while they will complete their league programme away to Longford Town on Saturday, November 7 (kick-off 7.45pm).
Limerick FC have encountered Sporting Fingal twice this season.
In May the Super Blues travelled to the Morton Stadium in Santry and earned a one-all draw thanks to Martin Deady’s 81st minute equaliser after Gareth Whelan had given the home side the lead just three minutes earlier.
Then, on July 31, Sporting Fingal were welcomed to Jackman Park when goals from Shaun Williams, Alan Kirby and Conan Byrne (two) propelled the away side to a comprehensive 4-1 win with Stephen O’Flynn notching a consolation goal for Pat Scully’s men in the 84th minute.
Sporting Fingal will be favourites to beat Limerick and keep their promotion hopes on track, but following the Super Blues’ terrific performance, which featured two goals from Stephen O’Flynn, on Friday night Pat Scully’s men will face their trip to Dublin in confident mood.
Meanwhile tickets are selling fast for Limerick FC’s upcoming exhibition match against the Liverpool Legends at Jackman Park on Sunday, November 1 (5pm).
The Super Blues have also confirmed that Liverpool Legends Ronnie Whelan, John Aldridge, Don Hutchinson, Phil Babb and Michael Thomas will all appear in the eagerly-anticipated exhibition match - the full Liverpool XI will be confirmed in due course.
Match tickets for the event will cost €25 (seated), €20 (adult standing), €10 (under-16 standing). There will also be a special family area in Jackman Park with family tickets priced at €40 (two adults & two under-16s).
A post-match dinner will also take place in the Strand Hotel - tickets for the dinner will cost €50.
Tickets for the exhibition match against the Liverpool Legends are available from Limerick FC, ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster outlets.
In an innovative departure Limerick FC are offering you the chance of lining out as a substitute with the Liverpool Legends - bidding has begun on eBay.ie and will finish on Sunday, October 17. The winning bidder will also feature in the match-day programme and on www.limerickfc.ie. For ticket information, please phone 061 324 563 or 085 107 9319 or email tickets@limerickfc.ie.
If you or your company is interested in any commercial opportunities connected with this event please phone 061 324 563 or 085 743 6675 or by email: commercial@limerickfc.ie.
Meanwhile the Limerick FC under-20s lost 2-0 to Cork City on Sunday afternoon and will have to wait for two games (Carlow v Waterford United & Cork City v Carlow - to be played on Friday and Monday night next respectively) to be played before learning if they have qualified for the quarter-finals on October 25 next.
The determination of Limerick FC’s final placing could all come down to goal difference.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flannery out for four weeks

MUNSTER have been dealt a major blow ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Cup pool match with Benetton Treviso following confirmation that hooker Jerry Flannery is set to be sidelined for up to four weeks with a calf muscle tear.


Flannery sustained the injury while training with the Munster squad in Limerick this Tuesday. A scan revealed the extent of the injury and indicated that Flannery would be out of action for up to four weeks. The injury puts Flannery’s participation in next month’s Guinness autumn international series in some doubt. Ireland are due to face Australia in their opening game in the series on Sunday, November 15 at Croke Park.
Declan Kidney’s side will then face Fiji at the RDS six days later, before rounding off their programme with a tie against World champions South Africa at Croke Park on Saturday, November 28.
This is the second major injury setback 30-year-old Flannery has suffered in recent months. An elbow injury forced the Limerickman to miss out on the Lions tour to South Africa.
Meanwhile, Dolphin’s James Coughlan will lead a strong Munster ‘A’ side when they take on Leinster at Clonmel RFC this Friday evening.
The Munster backline shows just one change from the one that played in the 28-11 defeat of Ulster at Shaws Bridge last month. Garryowen’s Ronan O’Mahony is named on the right wing in place of Ian Dowling who has been elevated to the province’s Heineken Cup squad.
Thomond’s Declan Cusack, who was very impressive in the victory over Ulster, will again start at out-half. Up front there are changes aplenty with Dave Kilcoyne- selected in place of Dave Ryan- alongside Mike Sherry and Stephen Archer. Ian Nagle is absent through injury so Dave Foley’s second row partner is dependant on who is left of out of the Heineken Cup match day squad. Coach Anthony Foley gave his side a run-out in UL this Tuesday and afterwards expressed his satisfaction at where his squad were at right now.
“I’d be very pleased with the strength of the side, obviously mixing the Academy players with Development and Contracted,” Anthony Foley said.
“We’re coming off a good first outing against Ulster and we see these games as really good preparation for the upcoming British & Irish Cup that kicks off in November. Our objective is to build a side, build a culture that hasn’t been there before and go into that competition with a degree of confidence.”
Assisted by Ian Costello, Foley was quick to enlist former Munster captain Mick Galwey as his team manager.
“Gallimh was keen to get back on board and we were delighted to have him involved. The players too. He’s a massive figure to them. He has a great manner around the squad. Very positive influence.”

Munster ‘A’ v Leinster: Danny Riordan; Ronan O’Mahony, Tom Gleeson, Scott Deasy, Danny Barnes; Declan Cusack, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer; Dave Foley, AN Other; Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan capt. Replacements: Sean Henry, Pa O’Regan, Kieran Essex, Peter O’Mahony, Paul Rowley, Andrew Burke, Simon Zebo.

Colm Kinsella

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Convention nominations now known

IN the wake of Tuesday night’s County Board meeting it has been confirmed that club delegates will be asked to vote on two executive positions at the County Convention.
The County Convention, hosted by the east divisional board on December 7 next, will see two elections take place. Both Ger O’Connell (Pallasgreen) and Eamonn Phelan (St. Patrick’s) have been nominated to run against current public relations officer Helen Cross (Ahane).
Meanwhile there will also be an election for Limerick’s two Munster Council delegates. County secretary Mike O’Riordan and Rory Kiely represented Limerick at provincial level this year. Mr. Kiely will not run on this occasion since he has been nominated to take over from PS O’Riain on the GAA’s Ard Comhairle.
While Mike O’Riordan will be in the running again this term the Kilmallock man will be challenged by Oola’s Denis Holmes, Mungret’s Donal Fitzgibbon, Eddie Wade (South Liberties) and Patrickswell’s Oliver Mann - five candidates contest two seats.
Development officer Eibhear O’Dea has decided to step down from his position for personal reasons, but there will be no election to replace Mr. O’Dea since only one candidate was nominated to replace him, namely Tim Ryan (Crecora).

Minor management
The minor hurling management team was ratified at Tuesday night’s meeting - Ger Hegarty (manager) will take charge while he will be joined by selectors Brian Begley, George Lee and Paul Flynn. It was also announced that a round robin under-17 inter-divisional series of games will be introduced (first round on October 31) in an effort to identify talent for future minor hurling teams. The respective divisional boards will be responsible for managing said teams.

Minor hurling final
The minor hurling final between Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh has been fixed for Wednesday, October 21 at 7.30pm in the Gaelic Grounds.
Kilmallock are favourites to win that decider. They beat Bunoke Gaels (2-15 to 0-9), Pallasgreen (3-20 to 0-5), Na Fianna (2-20 to 0-7) and Patrickswell (3-16 to 1-9) while they also lost to Mungret (0-12 to 2-11) during the round-robin phase of the competition.
In the semi-finals Kilmallock beat Adare comprehensively - 1-12 to 0-6.
Meanwhile Na Piarsaigh beat Newcastle West (1-28 to 1-3), Doon (3-13 to 2-15), Claughaun (1-17 to 1-3) and Adare (2-16 to 2-11) during the group phase, but required a replay to see off Patrickswell in the semi-finals.
It is hoped that a scheduled round of the Dr. Harty Cup, which has also been fixed for October 21, will not hinder the Na Piarsaigh players’ preparations for the minor decider - six of the panel play for Ardscoil Ris.

Football manager
Last Wednesday night’s (October 7) Football Board meeting was hastily called off after Newcastle West’s Billy Lee decided, for personal reasons, not to let his name go forward as a potential county under-21 manager.
The Football Board are now attempting to source another candidate who will also act as a selector with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as the Kerry man prepares for a potential fifth consecutive year in charge.
Once the Football Board have settled on a candidate he will then by forwarded, along with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s management team, for ratification by football club delegates and subsequently by the senior board.

County finals
The excitement is building on Shannonside ahead of this weekend’s county senior hurling and football finals. The county football final, which was abandoned last weekend after a severe injury to Thomas Cahill (Fr. Casey’s), has been re-scheduled for this Saturday afternoon (Gaelic Grounds, 4.30pm) when the defending champions Drom-Broadford will face off against Fr. Casey’s at the Ennis Road venue.
Meanwhile, on Sunday at 3.30pm, the Gaelic Grounds will also host the senior hurling decider which pits three in-a-row chasing Adare against Na Piarsaigh who are appearing in their first-ever senior final.
Patsy Coffey (Cappamore) has been appointed to referee the senior hurling final. This represents Patsy’s first final and he is a son of the famous Jimmy Butler Coffey who won a senior hurling All-Ireland medal with Tipperary in 1937 and a minor one in 1930. Jimmy also won two county senior titles with Ahane in the 1940s and will be celebrating his 100th birthday on October 26.
In another exciting departure Sunday will see a plaque unveiled in the honour of the great Mick Mackey (Ahane) at 1pm in the Gaelic Grounds. The unveilling will be performed by Jimmy O’Gorman, chairman of the Munster Council. Also during the half time interval of the senior hurling final the 1984 All-Ireland winning minor hurling team and their selectors will be paraded before the crowd.

Camogie All Stars
The nominations for the 2009 Camogie All Stars in association with O’Neill’s were announced on Tuesday with Ahane’s Niamh Mulcahy nominated for a spot in the half-forward line. Cork dominated the nominations with 12 potential award winners while Kilkenny received 11.
The winners will be announced at a gala banquet in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin on Saturday, November 7.

GPA Awards
Although both John Galvin (Croom) and Johnny McCarthy (St. Kieran’s) were nominated for All Star awards neither player has been nominated for the 2009 Opel GPA Football Team of the Year - the GPA nominations were announced earlier this week.

Brian McDonnell

Munster are fully focused

MUNSTER manager Shaun Payne says the side’s sole focus ahead of Saturday’s crunch Heineken Cup tie with Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park is on winning the game and not on picking up a precious bonus point.
Munster’s defence of the Heineken Cup was almost derailed in the opening pool match last season when unheralded Montauban threatened to pull off a shock of gigantic proportions in Limerick.


While Munster supporters will be hoping their charges can pick up a maximum haul of five points from Saturday’s tie at Thomond Park, with the side playing catch up in Pool 1, manager Payne stressed that the only thing they would be concentrating on was winning the game - kick-off on Saturday is at 1.35pm.
“I can absolutely guarantee you that the only thing we’re focusing on this weekend is winning the game especially after what’s happened with Treviso against Perpignan,” Shaun Payne insisted.
“There will be no talk about bonus points. We will go out there, play our normal game, look to put them under pressure and hope to take our opportunities when they come.
“There was no magic wand with Treviso’s victory over Perpignan.
“They had excellent first phase. The weather played a part in it.
“Perpignan went in maybe expecting a victory and in the first 45 seconds they got mauled half the length of the pitch, collapsed the maul and a penalty was awarded against them. And that set the tone.”
Shaun Payne was still playing the last time Munster faced Benetton Treviso in the Heineken Cup in 2004.
And he retains vivid memories of an uncomfortable afternoon at the Stadio Comunale Di Monigo in the away fixture.
“It took us a while to put them down. They’re a side you can’t be throwing the ball around against,” Shaun Payne said.
“They are a side you need to respect and get through your phases and approach it like we would any other team. Definitely after last weekend there will be a lot of respect shown to them.
“I know their coach very well, Franco Smith, from our time at the Sharks. I can guarantee you he’s not the sort of guy who’ll come over here just expecting to make up the numbers.
“The troops will be revved up and expecting to be able to do a job over here.”
Meanwhile Munster and Ireland prop John Hayes has had his six-week suspension for stamping reduced by a week following an appeal to the IRFU Appeals Committee last night.
However, the reduction does not clear Hayes to play in any further Munster or Irish fixtures.
Ireland’s most-capped international will miss this weekend’s clash with Treviso at Thomond Park as well as the away Magners League tie with Edinburgh on Friday week and the home fixture against Ulster on October 31.
Hayes received a red card during the Leinster v Munster Magners League game at the RDS at the start of the month for a stamp on Leinster player Cian Healy. Following a disciplinary hearing, Hayes was originally suspended for a period of six weeks from the date of the offence up to and including Saturday, November 14. The IRFU appeals panel considered the grounds for appeal by Munster Rugby last night and allowed one further weeks mitigation ‘based upon the record of the player’.
The reduction on the initial period of suspension means that Hayes is now suspended up to and including Saturday, November 7. The appeal panel was chaired by Billy Glynn, Chairman of the IRFU Appeals Committee, and he was assisted by Leo Galvin and George Spotswood.

Munster squad v Treviso: Marcus Horan, Tony Buckley, Julien Brugnaut, Darragh Hurley, Denis Fogarty, Jerry Flannery, Mick O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Nick Williams, Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan, Tomas O’Leary, Peter Stringer, Toby Morland, Ronan O’Gara, Paul Warwick, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean De Villiers, Doug Howlett, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling, Keith Earls.

COLM KINSELLA

Andy Lee plans Limerick bout

CASTLECONNELL middleweight Andy Lee will have his third professional fight in Limerick next month when he faces Affif Belghecham, the reigning European Union and French middleweight champion, at the UL Arena on Saturday, November 14.
Southpaw Lee has racked up 19 wins from his 20 professional fights to date and has registered knockouts in his last 16 consecutive fights.


Lee, who was in Thomond Park this Tuesday afternoon to announce details of his fight, has won his two previous bouts at the UL Arena, stopping Argentina’s Alejandro Falliga in five rounds and thrilling hometown fans with a final round knockout of Willie ‘The Gladiator’ Gibbs.
The Lyon native Affif Belghecham is rated just ahead of Lee in the current European ratings occupying eighth place, with the Shannonsider just behind in ninth place.
The list is headed by newly crowned European champion Matthew Macklin.
There had been plenty of speculation in recent weeks about a possible all-Irish European title showdown between Lee and Macklin, but the Limerickman insists that his sole focus is on dealing with the formidable threat posed by Belghecham in Limerick on Saturday, November 14.
“I’ve watched him in action and he’s going to be a very tough opponent,” US-based Lee said.
“He’s the current European Union champion and is coming into this fight on the back of some very good wins. He’s never been stopped so it could be a tough night, but I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s great to be fighting at home again. It always means that little bit more when you’re fighting in your home town. I’ve always got tremendous support from the people of Limerick right from my amateur days.
“Even the week building up to a fight in Limerick is special because everyone’s wishing you luck and coming up to say hello and it’s great to have that kind of support. Then on the night you can pick out so many people in the crowd that you know and it really gives you that extra push.”
While a possible fight with Matthew Macklin isn’t on Lee’s immediate agenda he admits it’s something he’d relish in the future.
“Obviously, that would be a big fight and it would be great if it happened, but right now I’m only concentrating on this fight.
“The European scene at middleweight has really come to the fore recently and outside of Kelly Pavlik the other champions in the division, Felix Sturm, Sebastian Sylvester and Sebastian Zbik are all based in Germany.”
Promoter Brian Peters believes that a win over Belghecham could lead to some major opportunities for Andy Lee.
“We tried to make a fight between Andy and John Duddy for next month and when that didn’t come off we looked at a rematch with Brian Vera, (the only man to beat Lee to date), but unfortunately neither party was interested.
“To Andy’s credit he was up for both of those fights and that shows you his mentality. He doesn’t want any pushovers and he’ll certainly have his hands full with Belghecham.”
Details of the undercard for the University Sports Arena on November 14 will be announced shortly.
Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night are priced from €40 will go on sale from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie) and all usual outlets from 9am this Wednesday, October 14.

Colm Kinsella

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Axel Foley demands support for Munster

MUNSTER’S first Heineken Cup winning captain Anthony Foley has urged supporters to get fully behind the side in Saturday’s crunch Heineken Cup pool match with Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park.
Foley, who skippered the province to win Europe’s premier club rugby trophy in 2006, said the Munster players fully appreciated what the supporters brought to Thomond Park on big match day.


Having suffered defeat to the Northampton Saints in their opening Heineken Cup Pool 1 game last weekend, Munster desperately need to record a victory over the Italian side Treviso this Saturday in order to remain in the hunt for a place in the knock-out stages of the competition (1.35pm).
Benetton Treviso were shock one-point winners over French champions Perpignan in their opening pool fixture on Saturday afternoon.
Foley, currently a technical advisor with the Munster team said: “Munster has always been about the people.
“We never lost sight of that. The supporters have always been there for Munster.
“When we did our captain’s run at Thomond Park the night before a big European Cup game, it was just concrete. But the place became electric on match days. The only difference between the two days was the people supporting us.
“We will be looking for that again on Saturday. Munster has always been about the people.”
The former number eight dismissed a recent media report that all was not well in the Munster camp.
Foley said people were inclined to read things into a number of disappointing results which Munster have had in recent weeks.
Munster under-20 head coach Foley said Munster faced crucial fixtures in the coming weeks against Benetton Treviso in the Heineken Cup and both Edinburgh and Ulster in the Magners League.
Foley was speaking as he launched Rags to Riches: The Story of Munster Rugby, penned by Irish Examiner journalist Barry Coughlan at Peter Clohessy’s Bar this Monday night.
The event was attended by a host of former Munster rugby greats including Moss Keane, Mick Galwey, Brendan Foley, Gerry McLoughlin, Peter Clohessy, Pat Murray, Ken Rennison and Noel Healy.

Colm Kinsella

Monday, October 12, 2009

Misfiring Munster now face an uphill struggle

MUNSTER face an uphill battle to make the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup for a 12th straight season after Saturday night’s opening round defeat to Northampton, but the task facing Tony McGahan’s men could well have been significantly greater.
The Saints looked a good bet to seize a significant 5-0 points lead over Munster in the Pool 1 table when they bagged their third try of the match and stormed 14 points clear of their rivals with 35 minutes of the game remaining.


But a rusty Munster steeled themselves over the remainder of the game to secure a losing bonus point and prevent Northampton from breaching their try line again.
It was the fourth occasion out of five games that Munster had suffered an opening day away defeat to English opposition in the cup. But on the last three occasions Munster lost their opening fixture away to Guinness Premiership opposition, the Irish province has managed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup.
Munster face Italian side Benetton Treviso, fresh from their shock home victory over Perpignan at the weekend, in their second Pool 1 fixture at Thomond Park this Saturday (1.35pm).
Treviso’s stunning 9-8 victory over the French champions ensures there is no chance of Munster taking their opponents lightly this weekend.
Should Tony McGahan’s men defeat Treviso and Perpignan bounce back to winning ways at home to Northampton then Munster’s back-to-back fixtures against the French champions in December could well play a key role in deciding the qualifier or qualifiers from Pool 1.
While the display was a step up from the embarrassing Magners League showing against Leinster a week earlier, several aspects of Munster’s play need to improve further ahead of Saturday’s Italian job.
Munster coughed up some very easy scores to Northampton and again struggled at the breakdown.
Coach Tony McGahan agreed that the side had displayed signs of rustiness with several players making just their second competitive appearance of the season.
“We would like to have our players back a little bit early. We feel we are a week or two underdone. Some of the technical and tactical decisions out there were costly,” Tony McGahan pointed out.
“There was some good stuff too. But I thought that at crucial times we came up short with a throw or a mis-hit in the scrums.
“It was a big improvement (on the Leinster game), but we would agree that there is still a way to go.
“I thought we were brave in the second half, but there is a sense of leaving three points behind.
“At one end we are delighted with the effort. It was brave to come back like we did, 14 points down away from home and be in with a shout in the last four and a half minutes.
“At the same time, a victory this evening would have set us up very well.”
While Munster supporters were left scratching their heads at a number of controversial decisions made by referee Christophe Berdos at the breakdown, captain Paul O’Connell refused to blame the defeat on the French official.
“The way Northampton played, the intensity they played with and their ability to take opportunities was what cost us and not the referee’s decisions,” Munster lock Paul O’Connell insisted.

COLM KINSELLA

Abandoned final re-fixed for Saturday next

SATURDAY night’s abandoned county senior football final between Fr. Casey’s and Drom-Broadford has been re-fixed for next Saturday (October 17) in the Gaelic Grounds at 4.30pm.
An injury to Fr. Casey’s Thomas Cahill brought Saturday night’s game to a premature end at the Gaelic Grounds.
The sides were locked at five points apiece in the 35th minute when Thomas Cahill collided with teammate Owen Joy under a dropping ball and the inter-county star suffered a broken leg in the unfortunate incident.
An accident earlier in the evening had seen the attending ambulance remove a child to hospital and as a result there was a significant and regrettable delay before the ambulance returned to transport the prostrate Cahill to casualty - Thomas Cahill was left lying on the Gaelic Grounds pitch for fully 33 minutes before being carefully lifted into an ambulance.
Twenty-six minutes after Thomas Cahill suffered his misfortunate injury the respective teams were told that the authorities, in conjunction with referee Mike O’Connor (Na Piarsaigh), had decided to abandon the game.
County Football Board chairman John Galvin explained the background to the decision: “The match was called off in the finish for health and safety reasons and after consultation with the referee.
“The players had gone cold following the delay caused by the injury and it was dangerous to play since the surface had got very slippery because of the due on the grass.
“It’s different to rain; they would be sliding all over the place.
“You had two cold teams there so trying to start off all over again there were bound to be more injuries. So, the decision was taken to call off the match in the best interests of the players.
“Finally I would like to wish Thomas a speedy recovery and I hope he will be back playing for Abbeyfeale and for Limerick in the coming months,” Galvin said.
On Saturday afternoon the Na Piarsaigh intermediate footballers beat Galbally in the county semi-final (1-8 to 0-10) to book their place in the decider against city division rivals St. Patrick’s - the final is due to take place in two weeks time.
Meanwhile the excitement is building this week ahead of next Sunday’s county senior hurling final (3.30pm) which will see Na Piarsaigh take on Adare in the county senior hurling final at the Gaelic Grounds.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Limerick host the Liverpool Legends

LIMERICK FC were delighted to announce during the past week details of their upcoming exhibition match against the ‘Liverpool Legends’ at Jackman Park on Sunday, November 1 (5pm).
The Super Blues have also confirmed that Liverpool Legends Ronnie Whelan, John Aldridge, Don Hutchinson, Phil Babb and Michael Thomas will all appear in the eagerly-anticipated exhibition match - the full Liverpool XI will be confirmed in due course.
Match tickets for the event will cost €25 (seated), €20 (adult standing), €10 (under-16 standing). There will also be a special family area in Jackman Park with family tickets priced at €40 (two adults & two under-16s). A post-match dinner will also take place in the Strand Hotel - tickets for the dinner will cost €50.
Tickets for the exhibition match against the Liverpool Legends are available from Limerick FC, ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster outlets.
In an innovative departure Limerick FC are offering you the chance of lining out as a substitute with the Liverpool Legends - bidding has begun on eBay.ie and will finish on Sunday, October 17. The winning bidder will also feature in the match-day programme and on www.limerickfc.ie
For ticket information, please phone 061 324 563 or 085 107 9319 or email tickets@limerickfc.ie.
If you or your company is interested in any commercial opportunities connected with this event please phone 061 324 563 or 085 743 6675 or by email: commercial@limerickfc.ie.
Meanwhile Limerick FC, who suffered a humiliating 3-2 defeat at the hands of Kildare County last Friday, host Waterford United at Jackman Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Limerick FC will be underdogs to win that game since the Super Blues have not managed a win in four games and have not managed to keep a clean sheet in 11 league outings.
Although Waterford United suffered a shock home defeat to Monaghan United last weekend they are still involved in the promotion race (fourth) and will arrive in Limerick in search of vital league points.
Limerick FC have faced Waterford United twice in the league this season and lost on both occasions - Waterford United won 2-0 at Jackman Park on April 24 and 2-1 in the RSC, Waterford on July 25.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Limerick duo nominated for GPA team of the year

TWO Limerick hurlers have been nominated for Opel GPA Hurling Team of the Year – Adare’s Mark Foley has been nominated for left wing-back while Murroe-Boher Seamus Hickey has been nominated at midfield.


The nominees were announced on Wednesday afternoon when a grand total of 45 players were short listed while three players also received nominations for the prestigious Opel GPA Hurler of the Year Award - the shortlist for the Opel GPA Hurling Team of the Year includes three players for each position reflecting the dominant role played by the player during the 2009 season. The list contains players from seven counties including; Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Dublin and Galway.
The three nominees for the Opel GPA Player of the Year for Hurling, as chosen by the Hurling Selection Committee are: Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), Lar Corbett (Tipperary) and John Mullane (Waterford).
The shortlists were drawn up by a selection committee headed up by Chairman Donal O’Grady. The winners will be selected by GPA members.
Nominees for Opel GPA Hurling Team of the Year: 1. Brendan Cummins (Tipperary), Donal Óg Cusack (Cork), PJ Ryan (Kilkenny). 2. Ollie Canning (Galway), Michael Kavanagh (Kilkenny), Paddy Stapleton (Tipperary). 3. Tomás Brady (Dublin), JJ Delaney (Kilkenny), Eoin Cadogan (Cork). 4. Oisín Gough (Dublin), Shane O’Neill (Cork) ,Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny). 5. Declan Fanning (Tipperary), Stephen Hiney (Dublin), Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny). 6. John Lee (Galway), Conor O’Mahony (Tipperary), Michael Walsh (Waterford). 7. Mark Foley (Limerick), Padraic Maher (Tipperary), John Tennyson (Kilkenny). 8-9. Seamus Hickey (Limerick), Alan McCrabbe (Dublin), Shane McGrath (Tipperary), Stephen Molumphy (Waterford), Michael Rice (Kilkenny), James Woodlock (Tipperary). 10. Eddie Brennan Kilkenny, Aonghus Callanan (Galway), Ben O’Connor Cork. 11. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary) ,Martin Comerford (Kilkenny), Cyril Donnellan (Galway). 12. Eoin Larkin (Kilkenny) ,John O’Brien (Tipperary), Andy Smith (Galway). 13. Noel McGrath (Tipperary) ,John Mullane (Waterford), David O’Callagan (Dublin). 14. Joe Canning (Galway), Eoin Kelly (Tipperary), Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny). 15. Lar Corbett (Tipperary), David Treacy (Dublin), Eoin Kelly (Waterford).
The Opel GPA Awards culminate in a Gala Evening on Friday, November 6 in the City West Hotel, Dublin when the Opel GPA Hurling and Football Teams of the Year are presented with their Awards on stage and the Opel GPA Hurler and Footballer of the Year are chosen on the night. Each player on the winning team receives a trophy, €2,500 and a comprehensive set of training and leisure gear. The chosen Hurler and Footballer of the Year each receive an Opel vehicle to the value of €25,000 in addition to the above.

Brian McDonnell

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Embattled Munster seek redemption

EMBATTLED Munster have been down this road before. Backs-to-the-wall, smarting after a crushing defeat and facing into potentially season-defining fixture just seven days later.
Remember the transformation in the side’s display when beating Gloucester 33-6 at home in 2003, a week after suffering a 15-point away defeat to Perpignan, when routing Gloucester 35-14 the following season, seven days after shipping an 11-point away defeat to the ‘Cherry and Whites’ in Kingsholm and finally when overcoming the London Wasps by 16-points, six days after losing to Clermont Auvergne in France in January 2008.
Munster’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity has set them apart for much of the previous 14 seasons of the Heineken Cup.
In the wake of last weekend’s 30-point drubbing at the hands of Leinster, Munster need to produce a vastly improved performance this Saturday against the Northampton Saints in their opening Heineken Cup Pool 1 fixture at Franklin’s Gardens (6pm).
Munster’s training sessions will be no place for the faint-hearted this week.
Among the key areas the twice Heineken Cup champions are sure to work on is the breakdown, where they were ineffective against Leinster at the RDS. The Magners League champions were physically unable to match Leinster’s excellent work in this area. Munster’s line-out was hugely disappointing as they continuously coughed up possession, even on their own throw.
Munster’s traditional teak tough disposition will be severely tested this weekend by a Northampton side which can lift themselves with memories of their 2000 Heineken Cup final win over the Irish province at Twickenham.
Despite last weekend’s narrow defeat to Wasps at Adams Park, the Saints have begun the Guinness Premiership season is impressive fashion.
A defeat this weekend will leave Munster facing an uphill battle to make the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup for a 12th straight season. While Tony McGahan’s can reasonably expect to claim 10 points against Italian side Benetton Treviso, a defeat this weekend ahead of a daunting trip to the Stade Aime Giral to face Perpignan in December would be a blow to Munster’s hopes of making the last eight.


Coach Tony McGahan remains confident the province’s ‘quality senior players’ will help the side bounce back in style from their embarrassing defeat to Leinster.
McGahan revealed that some frank talking had been done in the Munster dressing room following Saturday’s 30-point drubbing at the hands of old rivals Leinster.
The Munster coach expects a positive response from his charges this weekend.
Skipper Paul O’Connell said the poor display against Leinster would act as a major motivating factor in Saturday’s clash with the Saints.
Everything needs to improve from last weekend. I think if it does, we have a good chance at the weekend,” O’Connell told this week’s launch of the 15th Heineken Cup.
“I think it will be a big motivation for us having had such a disappointing performance last Saturday. We did none of our basics well and that’s the most important thing you do.
“Going away to Northampton and going away to Perpignan are going to be incredibly tough games, so we’re going to be concentrating on getting out of our group first and foremost.”
With captain O’Connell, Jerry Flannery and David Wallace successfully coming through their first appearances of the season on Saturday, it seems certain that coach McGahan will make several changes to his starting line-up for the tie with Northampton. Back-row forwards Denis Leamy and Alan Quinlan are also available to play having recovered from minor injuries.
Tony Buckley is likely to come into the front-row in the absence of the suspended John Hayes.
Paul Warwick, despite throwing the intercept pass for Shane Horgan’s third Leinster try, looked lively when introduced at the RDS and the Aussie, who has just returned from a foot injury, could well force his way into the starting line-up for Saturday.
Warwick was outstanding for Munster last season.
Ian McGeechan, who faced Munster in the Heineken Cup in 2007-‘08 while head coach at London Wasps, said he expects the Magners League holders to produce a vastly improved performance this weekend.
But former Lions head coach McGeechan says the Saints will provide stubborn resistance.
“You look at the characters involved and I have no doubt it will be a very different Munster side next Saturday at Franklin’s Gardens,” Ian McGeechan, who visits Limerick next week to promote his new autobiography Lion Man, told Leader Sport.
“Munster have experience and strength of character when they pulled on a jersey.
“Early on a lot of teams can have a slow start in the Heineken Cup. The most important thing is winning because you pick the form up and the intensity as the season goes on.
“Northampton have started quite strongly. I know they lost to Wasps at the weekend. But they are a physical side. It will be a tough game at Northampton.
“They rarely lose there. They will certainly be looking forward to it.”

Heineken Cup 2009-10
Pool 1 - Round 1
Northampton Saints v Munster
Saturday, October 10 @ 6pm
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)
TV: Live Sky Sports Xtra, 5.45pm
Highlights: RTE 2, 10.35pm
Match betting: Northampton 10/11,
Munster 10/11 & Draw 18/1.
(Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.com)

Colm Kinsella

John Hayes handed six-week suspension

MUNSTER rugby will await the written copy of the IRFU disciplinary panel in the coming days before deciding whether to appeal against the six-week suspension imposed on prop John Hayes in Belfast yesterday.


The ban, as it stands, will prevent Hayes from playing in Munster’s opening two fixtures in the Heineken Cup as well as two fixtures in the Magners League.
Hayes was red-carded in the 54th minute of Munster’s Magners League tie with Leinster at the RDS on Saturday following a stamp on prop Cian Healy.
An IRFU statement issued last night read: “Having studied the match footage and heard all available evidence, the three-man IRFU disciplinary panel of chairman Hugh Logan, assisted by Stephen Hilditch and Neil Jackson, confirmed that the offence constituted a high end entry level in terms of sanctions.
“Having also considered all mitigating factors, the panel imposed a six-week suspension from the date of the offence on Saturday, October 3 up to and including Saturday, November 14.”
Cappamore man Hayes attended the hearing held in Ravenhill accompanied by team manager Shaun Payne and legal advisor Donal Spring.
Afterwards, in a statement issued through team manager Payne, Hayes expressed his disappointment with the decision.
Payne’s statement read: “John (Hayes) regrets the incident happened at all.
“He has a long and unblemished professional rugby career spanning twelve seasons and would not be regarded by anybody including opponents as being a dirty player.
“He is very disappointed with the sanction, given that the committee accepted the action wasn’t intentional yet decided the entry point for the offence to be at the higher range, the nine weeks reduced to six in mitigation.”
Hayes has had an impeccable disciplinary record through a long and distinguished career which has seen him play more than 300 games for Bruff, Shannon, Munster, Ireland and the Lions.
The six-week suspension will result in John Hayes missing four games for Munster, the two opening round Heineken Cup pool matches away to Northampton on Saturday and at home to Benetton Treviso a week later. Thirty-five-year-old Hayes will also be unavailable for the away Magners League game against Edinburgh on October 23 and the home game against Ulster eight days later. John Hayes’ suspension is due to end on Saturday November 14, the day before Ireland play their first fixture in the autumn international series against Australia.
Munster will wait until they have received the written copy of the decision before deciding whether or not to appeal.
Munster’s sole focus now will be on Saturday’s opening round Heineken Cup Pool 1 clash away to the Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens (6pm).
Coach Tony McGahan will be looking for a big response from his players in the wake of their embarrassing 30-point defeat to Leinster in the Magners League last weekend. Munster’s first round opponent Northampton also come into Saturday’s tie on the back of a loss.
The Saints went under to London Wasps in the English Guinness Premiership.
With captain Paul O’Connell, Jerry Flannery and David Wallace successfully coming through their first appearances of the season on Saturday, it seems certain that coach McGahan will make several changes to his starting line-up for the tie with Northampton.
Back-row forwards Denis Leamy and Alan Quinlan are also available to play having recovered from minor injuries.

COLM KINSELLA

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ollie Moran calls it a day

OLLIE Moran, who turned out for Limerick in 13 consecutive seasons, has decided to call a halt to his inter-county hurling career.
Moran, one of Limerick’s finest servants since he made his inter-county debut for the Shannonsiders in 1997, played his final game for the county last August when Justin McCarthy’s men suffered a heavy All-Ireland semi-final defeat at the hands of Tipperary.


The 33-year-old, who won county titles with Ahane in 1998, 1999 and 2004, explained to Leader Sport that a cartilage problem in his right knee hastened his departure from the inter-county scene: “I had my mind made up before I walked off the field in Croke Park after the Tipperary game.
“It was a big struggle for me to get fit this year and I knew that 2009 was going to be my last hurrah.”
Although Moran never let Limerick down he believes that the 2001 and 2007 campaigns represent his finest performances for Limerick.
“They were the only two years that we had a decent run in the championship and personally I felt that I played well in both 2001 and 2007,” Ollie Moran said.
“We really left the 2001 Munster final behind us, Tipp got the rub of the green that day and then went on to win the All-Ireland.
“2007 was also unique and the three games we had against Tipperary were definitely the highlight of my career. They were super games to be involved in.”
Off the back of some extraordinary performances at centre-forward Ollie Moran inspired Limerick to an All-Ireland final appearance against Kilkenny two years ago. Indeed Moran’s displays earned him an All Star in 2007: “I always had reservations about playing centre-forward, but as that year went on I got better and better - everything just caught fire for me.”
Ollie Moran, who won five Railway Cups with Munster, launched his own business this year - Ollie Moran Financial Services - while the Ahane man was also thrilled when he celebrated the birth of his son David with his wife Lisa last April.
You suspect that if Moran brings the same commitment and desire to his business as he did to hurling that Ollie is destined for success in the financial world. Those developments in Moran’s life however made it more difficult for the incredibly popular Ahane man to give hurling the commitment it deserved: “It was difficult for me to give time to Limerick this year and to work on getting my form back. At times I didn’t think I was in the position to do myself justice.”
Moran, who joined the extended Limerick panel as a 22-year-old in 1996, remains proud of his exploits with the Shannonsiders despite only winning a National League title in 1997.
“Some guys get more medals than others and there’s a lot of poor players out there who won a lot more than I did,” Moran explained.
“We definitely had some bad days, but we also had some great days.
“The big thing for me though was the friendships I made throughout my time playing for Limerick.
“I made friends that I will carry with me through my whole life. Medals are one thing, but it’s the memories and friendships that will last forever. There’s a kinship which develops between players over time. And, I feel very priviledged to have played so long for Limerick.”
Moran is determined to keep hurling with his club Ahane and suggests that he may try his hand at coaching: “I will definitely try to give it another few years with the club. Playing at any level is still a full-time job and that’s all I’m in a position to concentrate on. But certainly coaching is something I would be interested in getting involved in. I think it is something I would enjoy.”

Brian McDonnell