Monday, November 30, 2009

Munster season has now reached a crucial stage

IRELAND hooker Jerry Flannery has admitted that the next three weekends are likely to define Munster’s season in both the Magners League and Heineken Cup competitions.
Tony McGahan’s Munster side will play their first competitive fixture in five weeks when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to face the Ospreys in the Magners League this Saturday (kick off 6.30pm).


Holders Munster are currently one position outside the play-off spots in the Magners League.
However, McGahan’s men have the same number of points as second-placed Edinburgh and lie fifth as a result of their inferior points difference.
The results of Munster’s back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against Perpignan on the two subsequent weekends should go a long way towards determining whether Munster make it through to the knock-out stages of the competition.
Munster will host French champions Perpignan at Thomond Park on Friday, December 11 before making the trip to Stade Aime Giral for the return leg on Sunday, December 20.
Fresh from inspiring Ireland to their impressive 20-15 Guinness Series victory over world champions South Africa at the weekend Jerry Flannery said: “From now on we switch back to Munster and we have three very big games coming up with the province. We have the Ospreys and Perpignan twice. These fixtures are pretty much going to define our season.
“From the autumn internationals with Ireland we switch back to provincial mode straight away.
“For the Irish team to do well the provincial teams must be successful.
“I think, much and all as it hurt last year when Leinster beat us in the Heineken Cup semi-final, it was good that they went on and won the competition.
“The winning mentality is spreading through Irish players and it is manifesting itself in the Irish squad.”
Flannery said he was encouraged by the number of younger front-row players coming through at Munster this season.
“Coming through at the minute you have the likes of Stephen Archer and when you look at hooker, you have Damien Varley and Denis Fogarty with Munster. They are both very good players,” Flannery said.
“It is just difficult to find these massive John Hayes-type players. There are not a whole lot of them going around. We have a small player base in Ireland, but we just have to make them the best players we can.
“With the Irish squad we look at ourselves and how we are progressing. We don’t have a massive player base in the country so it is important with the players who are there that we use that to our advantage. We are a tight-knit group. We have to take ownership of the team and try and drive it on. We have to keep improving. Playing against the top sides you learn a lot.”
Meanwhile in the British and Irish Cup Munster A maintained their impressive start to the new competition when recording an impressive 18-6 victory over English Championship side Bristol at Nenagh RFCs club grounds on Friday night.
Munster are currently one point ahead of Nottingham Rugby in the Pool B table. Table toppers Munster will host Nottingham in the next series of games in the inaugural British and Irish Cup on the weekend of February 12-14, 2010 at a venue to be confirmed.
Garryowen will face a trip to Cork to take on Dolphin in the semi-finals of the AIB Cup. Dolphin defeated Galwegians in their re-arranged quarter-final tie to set up the last four meeting with Garryowen on Saturday, December 19 at Musgrave Park.
The AIL resumes next weekend with all seven of Limerick’s senior clubs due to back in action.

COLM KINSELLA

McCarthy may address County Board meeting

ACCORDING to Limerick County Board chairman Liam Lenihan it is a distinct possibility that senior hurling manager Justin McCarthy will address next Thursday night’s special County Board meeting in the Community Centre in Ballyagran at 7.30pm.


The meeting on December 3 has been convened to discuss the crisis surrounding the Limerick senior hurling panel and for delegates to vote on the ‘GAA/GPA proposal’ - like every other county in the country Limerick must discuss the proposed alignment of the GPA and GAA and decide to agree or disagree with the proposal before a meeting of Central Council on December 5 in Croke Park.
On Thursday night last (November 26) the County Board met with members of the 2009 hurling panel to discuss the fall out from Justin McCarthy’s wholesale changes to the senior hurling squad - McCarthy dropped 12 players while a further eight walked out in protest.
This morning County Board chairman Liam Lenihan described that meeting as “open and frank” and that the County Board executive will convey the views of the players to Thursday night’s meeting in Ballyagran.
“We had an open and frank meeting on Thursday night,” Liam Lenihan told Leader Sport on Monday morning.
“We got our views on the situation across and they got their views across.
“We will now convey those views to Thursday night’s meeting and move on from there.”
The starting time, originally 6.30pm, and the venue for the meeting raised eyebrows across the county, but County Board officials have now moved the meeting back to 7.30pm to allow delegates sufficient time to reach the venue - the Limerick executive insist that they planned the meeting to co-incide with the launch of the Limerick GAA Yearbook which takes place in Mark Foley’s Bar later that evening in Ballyagran (9.30pm).
In an extraordinary departure the special County Board meeting will be held in camera. Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan confirmed to Leader Sport last week that an executive meeting of County Board officers had taken the decision to exclude members of the media from the meeting in Ballyagran.
Earlier last week former Limerick GAA chairman Denis Holmes led the calls for the scheduling of a County Board meeting to discuss the latest saga to engulf Limerick hurling. At the annual convention of the East Board in Ahane chairman Denis Holmes said that the clubs of the county need to be heard.

Brian Mcdonnell

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crisis features on Board agenda

A special meeting of Limerick County Board is scheduled for next Thursday, December 3 to discuss the crisis surrounding Limerick hurling.
The eagerly-awaited meeting of the club delegates of the 69 clubs of the county will take place in the Community Centre in Ballyagran at 6.30pm.


The starting time and venue have raised eyebrows across the county, but County Board officials insist that they planned the meeting to co-incide with the launch of the Limerick GAA Yearbook which takes place in Mark Foley’s Bar later that evening in Ballyagran.
In an extraordinary departure the special County Board meeting will be held in camera. Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan confirmed to Leader Sport this Wednesday morning that an executive meeting of County Board officers had taken the decision to exclude members of the media from the meeting in Ballyagran.
Earlier this week former Limerick GAA chairman Denis Holmes led the calls for the scheduling of a County Board meeting to discuss the latest saga to engulf Limerick hurling.
At this Monday night’s Annual Convention of the East Divisional Board in Ahane chairman Denis Holmes said that the clubs of the county need to be heard.
“The matter has been discussed at length through various media around the county, but there has been silence from the County Board except to say they completely support the management team,” the divisional chairman told the meeting.
He added: “That is of course totally commendable, but with players dropping out on a daily basis we are now approaching a crisis and as long as the matter is not solved or indeed, at a minimum, discussed at County Board level questions will remain.
“As with anyone with an ounce of Limerick blood in their veins I hope that is sorted out and while I think it has been allowed to drag on too long already my plea to the executive is sort it before it becomes unsolvable,” pleaded Holmes.
“What has been going on in the recent past has not been encouraging.
“Have we so many good players that we can afford to make such radical adjustments? While I have doubts, if the management are confident they can produce them, then brilliant. However if they do not then where do we go? As with all things time will tell. I hope in the near future time will be allowed for a discussion on the matter. If the gamble by the selectors does not work I feel that clubs and the County Board will suffer.”
Last weekend’s withdrawal of 2007 All-Star goalkeeper Brian Murray brings to eight the number of hurlers that have opted out of Justin McCarthy’s inter-county panel - Brian Geary, Damien Reale, Seamus Hickey, Donal O’Grady, Wayne McNamara, James O’Brien and James Ryan.
“We have to recognise that our senior hurlers are our flagship team and we as a county owe it to our supporters in particular to field a team that is trained, dedicated and prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure they compete to the best of their ability.
“Equally a management structure has to be in place to help in the preparation of the team and give them that vital edge,” said Holmes in his wide-ranging address to the convention.
“There are lots of things to be sorted, but I want to place two points on record that I feel are vital - who decided not to tell the players they were being dropped the management team or the County Board and when the charters were negotiated with Justin McCarthy and Mickey Ned O’Sullivan was it agreed that players could play both football and hurling?”
Just two items appear on the agenda for next Thursday’s meeting - the ‘GAA/GPA proposal’ and ‘Limerick senior team situation’.
Like every county in the country Limerick must discuss the proposed alignment of the GPA and GAA and decide to agree or disagree with the proposal before a meeting of Central Council on December 5 in Croke Park.

Football manager
While not on the agenda for the meeting Limerick GAA officials could also take the opportunity of the County Board meeting to finally confirm Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as Limerick’s senior football manager for a fifth year.
At a meeting of Limerick’s Football Board on October 26 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. However the appointment for a further one-year term still needs 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.
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

Declan Kidney wary of a South African backlash at Croke Park

IRELAND coach Declan Kidney believes South Africa’s disappointing run of results during their tour of Europe will make the Grand Slam champions an even bigger target for the Springboks in Saturday’s big Guinness Series international at Croke Park (2.30pm).


To date South Africa suffered defeat to France in a fiercely-competitive Test in Toulouse as well as to both Leicester and Saracens when not fielding full-strength sides.
The world champions did record a 32-10 victory over Italy last weekend and Declan Kidney is hoping to guide Ireland to an unbeaten year in 2009.
Coach Kidney said: “I regret the results South Africa have had on their tour. We are sort of lined up, really. The have beaten the Lions in their three-game series. They have won the Tri Nations.
“Not too many teams go to the South of France and win. That defeat to France then will be the one which will disappoint them.
“Mid-week matches, like the ones South Africa played against Leicester and Saracens, are hugely commercially attractive fixtures, but they are difficult for the touring sides because of the travelling and logistics involved. This is the last game’s of South Africa’s season. We know we are a bit of a target for them.
“I am sure, what their results so far on the tour have done, is target us even more.
“It would be a fine finish to their season, to beat us on our own patch.
“I think they will be well motivated on Saturday.”
The big talking point from Kidney’s team selection for Saturday was his surprise decision to name Jonathan Sexton at out-half instead of the vastly experienced Ronan O’Gara.
Otherwise Kidney has kept faith with the XV that drew 20-20 with Australia in Ireland’s autumn opener with Keith Earls replacing knee injury victim Luke Fitzgerald.
Ronan O’Gara will be 34 by the time the next World Cup arrives in 2011 and there has been a critical lack of depth at fly-half, until Sexton’s arrival.
The Springboks will offer a clearer picture of whether Sexton is the solution and Kidney admitted he needed to see him properly tested.
“I know we have a world-class outside-half in Ronan (O’Gara), but we have to find out things about ourselves,” Kidney said this week.
“Jonathan had a good game last week, but with respect Fiji were short of a few so it was difficult to read. I need to find out more.
“Ronan is disappointed, but is the perfect pro. He’s taken it on the chin, has continued training and has contributed to the team exactly as he would normally.
“It was a difficult call, but that doesn’t really matter. My job is to pick an Ireland team and that’s what I’ve done.”
There was disappointment for Limerick scrum-half Eoin Reddan who was not included in the match day 22 for the big game.
Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer was named among the replacements instead of Leinster star Reddan who started last week’s tie against Fiji at the RDS.

IRELAND TEAM
Rob Kearney (Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O’Driscoll (Capt) (Leinster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster); Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Tomas O’Leary (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), John Hayes (Munster); Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), David Wallace (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: Sean Cronin (Connacht), Tony Buckley (Munster), Leo Cullen (Leinster), Denis Leamy (Munster), Peter Stringer (Munster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster).

Colm Kinsella

Limerick FC bid to buy Market’s Field

LIMERICK FC have made an official bid to purchase the Market’s Field in an effort to return senior soccer to it’s spiritual home.
Leader Sport has learned that a bid has been received by the Irish Greyhound Board for the Mulgrave Street venue which was last home to senior soccer 25 years ago.
A spokesperson for the Greyhound Board confirmed that they had received a financial offer for the Market’s Field stadium.
It is understood that there have been a number of expressions of interest since the announcement last year that the Greyhound Stadium would be moving to a new site on the Dock Road.
“This latest development is a serious bid, but we are at a very early stage and we have an obligation to our own sport to only sell the site in the current climate so long as a fair price is being offered,” explained Adrian Neilan, Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Greyhound Board.
“That said we understand that talks may be taking place between the bidders, Limerick City Council and the FAI. If there was a positive outcome to these talks, and the council felt that supporting such a project was in the best interests of our sporting city, the Irish Greyhound Board would be pleased to sell to buyers who would maintain the sporting heritage of the site,” said Neilan.
Meanwhile Cllr Kevin Kiely, the Mayor of Limerick, has called on the Irish Greyhound Board to show “good will” and give the backers of Limerick FC a long-term lease on the Market’s Field for a nominal fee.
“I would call on Bord na gCon to give Limerick FC a long-term lease for a nominal figure of €1 per year. I know it’s a commercial venture for Bord na gCon, but they are funded by the taxpayer,” Mayor Kevin Kiely told the Limerick Leader.
“The Market’s Field will not be ever used for anything other than sport,” the Mayor confirmed.
“I think a gesture like that from Bord na gCon would create great goodwill and would be a big gesture to soccer in Limerick and to the people of Limerick,” said Mayor Kiely.
“I have been in negotiations with Pat O’Sullivan, who has taken over the reins of Limerick FC, and I know that Pat is anxious to return soccer to the Market’s Field,” said the Mayor.
The Irish Greyhound Board hope that the sale of the Market’s Field and their headquarters in Henry St. would off-set the cost of construction of their new stadium.
The new greyhound stadium on Limerick’s Dock Road is located on the old racecourse site at Greenpark and is expected to open in September 2010.
Following delivery of the steel girders last month, building work has gathered pace and is now well over ground on the grandstand with office buildings and clearly visible to passing traffic.
The new greyhound stadium is to cost €18 million and promises to create 100 permanent jobs and will host over 1,750 races a year and have a capacity attendance of 2,900.
The state-of-the-art facility will feature a main stand with viewing and dining areas as well as a number of bars.
The stadium will boast a 190 seat restaurant, private hospitality suites and gallery bars.

Jerome O’Connell

Keith Wood backs Ronan O’Gara

FORMER Irish rugby captain Keith Wood has backed Munster out-half Ronan O’Gara to bounce back from the disappointment of being dropped for Ireland’s glamour autumn international clash with world champions South Africa at Croke Park this Saturday.
Wood described the decision to opt for Jonathan Sexton at number 10 as a ‘bold’ one, but said the choice of the Leinster man at out-half wasn’t that big a surprise considering the player’s excellent form.
O’Gara has started every Test match for Ireland against top-ranked opposition for the past six seasons.
The 32-year-old has amassed 93 caps since 2000.
Grand Slam champions Ireland will go through the 2009 calendar year unbeaten if they can avoid defeat against the Springboks (2.30pm).
“I was very surprised that Jonathan Sexton was selected. I didn’t really think that is was going to happen,” Keith Wood admitted in Limerick on Tuesday night.
“But having said that, Jonny (Jonathan Sexton) has been playing unbelievably well. I don’t think you can say that it is a great surprise in relation to form.
“I think it’s a big call. It will be interesting to see what happens. We want Jonny to do well and see how Ronan comes back from this. He hasn’t been dropped for an awful long time. He is a guy who has delivered time and time and time again for Ireland.
“I would expect him to do so again. We are not getting towards the end of Ronan O’Gara. There is a few years left in him yet.
“He is a guy who, every time he has been given a chance, has delivered time and time again.
“Declan (Kidney) had to make a call at some stage. We are blessed to have another out-half. We have been so lucky over the past 10 years that we have had no injuries to Ronan O’Gara.
“We are in a situation where we have guys playing well and you have to incentivise guys who are playing well, give them an opportunity.
“But people are wrong if they write Ronan O’Gara off now. Everybody gets dropped. It is absolutely the nature of the game. It’s guaranteed. It is how you get over it. You don’t have a Divine right to play, but Ronan will just come back stronger.”

The box seat
Keith Wood said he believed Sexton would be in the ‘box seat’ to start for Ireland in next year’s Six Nations championship should he perform well against South Africa and maintain his good form for Leinster over the next couple of months.
“There is a huge amount of games to be played between now and the start of the Six Nations. While Saturday’s match is a very big game for Ireland, but it isn’t one with a trophy dependant on it,” Keith Wood said.
“It makes the selection of Jonny (Sexton) an easier punt maybe than if we were playing against France in the Six Nations.
“If Jonny comes through this and plays unbelievably well, he then is in the box seat, without a shadow of a doubt, for the Six Nations. He has played well for nine months now. He got his chance with Leinster and with Ireland last weekend and has delivered very well. Each time he has done very well. We wish he would do well against South Africa.”

Good news for Keith Earls
While there was disappointment for one Munster player with team selection, there was good news for another, Keith Earls, who is included on the left wing to face South Africa.
Wood has been hugely impressed with the progress Earls has made in a short space of time.
The former Irish hooker said he would have the versatile Limerickman in the side, irrespective of the injury suffered by Luke Fitzgerald.
“I think Keith (Earls) is magic. He has a spark about him. You can see it in Thomond Park. Every time he touches the ball, there is a collective in-take of breath by the supporters. He has got something very special,” Keith Wood said.
“I would have had him in the side anyway. He was a young guy going out to South Africa with the Lions. I would say he came back with his eyes opened to what is out there in rugby.
“I thought his performance was phenomenal on the Lions tour. He may have had a rocky start, but it was the way he dealt with it.
“I remember talking to a chunk of the English press when they came back from the tour and they said he was one of the nicest guys they had ever come across.
“This is a guy who has been elevated to a very high position, touring with the Lions on almost his first year in big time rugby. He goes on a Lions tour and things don’t exactly go as well as he would have liked on the first week.
“But he fights tooth and nail, worked harder than anyone to get there in the end. He has earned the respect of every other player who was on that trip home with him.”
Wood believes Ireland have a fighting chance of sending the South Africans home from their tour of Europe on a losing note this weekend.
“On Saturday, I am hoping we make South Africa remember how much they want to go home. And they do want to go home,” Wood stressed.
“It has been a long year for them. And I hope we can give them a bit of a torrid day of it to remind them every single minute for 80 that these guys want to go home the next day.
“I hope we can win. I think we have a decent chance of winning.”

Colm Kinsella

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Former chairman calls for urgent County Board meeting

A FORMER Limerick GAA chairman has called for the scheduling of a County Board meeting to discuss the crisis surrounding the Limerick senior hurling panel.
At this Monday night’s Annual Convention of the East Divisional Board in Ahane chairman Denis Holmes said that the clubs of the county need to be heard.


“The matter has been discussed at length through various media around the county, but there has been silence from the County Board except to say they completely support the management team,” the divisional chairman told the meeting.
He added: “That is of course totally commendable, but with players dropping out on a daily basis we are now approaching a crisis and as long as the matter is not solved or indeed, at a minimum, discussed at county board level questions will remain.
“As with anyone with an ounce of Limerick blood in their veins I hope that is sorted out and while I think it has been allowed to drag on too long already my plea to the executive is sort it before it becomes unsolvable,” pleaded Denis Holmes.
“What has been going on in the recent past has not been encouraging.
“Have we so many good players that we can afford to make such radical adjustments? While I have doubts, if the management are confident they can produce them, then brilliant. However if they do not then where do we go?
“As with all things time will tell. I hope in the near future time will be allowed for a discussion on the matter. If the gamble by the selectors does not work I feel that clubs and the County Board will suffer.”
The weekend’s withdrawal of 2007 All-Star goalkeeper Brian Murray brings to eight the number of hurlers that have opted out of Justin McCarthy’s inter-county panel - Brian Geary, Damien Reale, Seamus Hickey, Donal O’Grady, Wayne McNamara, James O’Brien and James Ryan.
“We have to recognise that our senior hurlers are our flagship team and we as a county owe it to our supporters in particular to field a team that is trained, dedicated and prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure they compete to the best of their ability.
“Equally a management structure has to be in place to help in the preparation of the team and give them that vital edge,” said Holmes in his wide-ranging address to the convention.
“There are lots of things to be sorted, but I want to place two points on record that I feel are vital - who decided not to tell the players they were being dropped the management team or the County Board and when the charters were negotiated with Justin McCarthy and Mickey Ned O’Sullivan was it agreed that players could play both football and hurling?”
This Tuesday night an executive meeting of the officers of County Board will take place in the Gaelic Grounds. It is understood that they could be ready to schedule a full County Board meeting with December 3 a possible date.
Like every county in the country Limerick must discuss the proposed alignment of the GPA and GAA and decide to agree or disagree with the proposal before a meeting of Central Council on December 5 in Croke Park.
As well as debating the GPA issue the expected meeting would also be expected to discuss the crisis surrounding Limerick hurling.
It emerged over the weekend that some of the withdrawn hurlers have declined a meeting with manager Justin McCarthy.
“Justin has said he is available to talk to any player who wishes to meet him,” confirmed Limerick County Board PRO Helen Cross.
“But I understand that they have declined his offer,” said the Ahane woman.
The PRO said that the decision taken last week by leading Limerick GAA officials to give a unanimous vote of confidence to the hurling management was not taken lightly.
“At a meeting of the county Management Committee in the Gaelic Grounds on Wednesday night (October 18) it was decided unanimously to support Justin McCarthy and his management team for 2010. The meeting ran from 7.30pm to 11.30pm - they went through everything and just felt that they needed to support Justin McCarthy as manager.”
She added: “The meeting was told that Justin will leave his door open for any of the players and is willing to talk to them”.

Jerome O’Connell

Monday, November 23, 2009

Keith Earls all set for South African clash

DOUBLE try-scoring hero Keith Earls is keeping his fingers crossed that he will get the chance to face world champions South Africa in Saturday’s final autumn international at Croke Park (2.30pm).


Twenty-two-year-old Earls looks a certainty to start on the left wing against the Springboks at GAA headquarters this weekend after bagging two tries in Ireland’s emphatic 41-6 victory over Fiji at the RDS on Saturday.
Earls made five appearances for the Lions in their summer tour to South Africa, scoring a brace of tries, but the Munster star would like nothing more than to pit his wits against the Springboks in a full Test match.
Earls said: “I would love to get an opportunity against the best team in the world.
“The Lions tour was disappointing in the end, losing two Tests, but we know they are there to be beaten.
“France defeated them last week, so it should be a good challenge.
“We just have to relax as we did against Fiji, take it as it comes. It’s going to be good.”
The Limerickman’s two tries against Fiji were beautifully taken and brought his try tally to an impressive three in just four outings for Ireland.
While admitting that his preference is for playing at outside-centre or at full-back, Keith Earls has comfortably slotted in on the left wing in the absence of the injured Luke Fitzgerald.
He said: “I’m just happy to be in the starting XV, but I don’t want to be known as a utility back. My preference is for outside-centre or full-back. All I can do is to perform as well as I can, irrespective of what position I’m asked to play.”
While Keith Earls scored two tries on Saturday the game also proved memorable for two more Limerick men.
Scrum-half Eoin Reddan returned to the Irish team, winning his 17th cap in the game. There was also a debut appearance for hooker Sean Cronin. The former Ardscoil Ris student, an AIL medal winner with Shannon who currently plays for Connacht, was introduced as a second half replacement for Jerry Flannery.
Experienced hooker Flannery should be available for Saturday’s clash with the Springboks despite requiring some attention to a nose injury.
The medical update on Munster back-row forward Denis Leamy is also encouraging. Following both X-rays and scans of his right ankle which he injured during the Fiji game Leamy’s injury is less serious than at first thought.
The Munster back-rower will undergo rehabilitation this week, but is not ruled out of selection for the South African tie at this point.
Meanwhile nine players have been added to the Ireland squad ahead of this weekend’s clash with Peter de Villiers South African side. They include Munster players Ronan O’Gara and David Wallace.
The Ireland team to face World champions South Africa at Croke Park and the A team to face the Argentine Jaguars at Tallaght on Friday evening will also be announced tomorrow.
Meanwhile the Munster A side made the best possible start to the new British and Irish Cup when recording a 20-13 bonus-point victory over Coventry at Butts Stadium on Friday night.
Munster A host another English Championship side, Bristol, in their first home game of the campaign at Nenagh Ormond RFC’s grounds this Friday night (7.30pm).
On the club front Limerick’s sole remaining representatives in the AIB Cup, Garryowen, advanced to the semi-final stage of the competition with a deserved 16-6 victory over Blackrock College RFC at Stradbrook on Saturday. Garryowen now face an away semi-final against the winners of the postponed Dolphin v Galwegians tie.

Colm Kinsella

Murray - the latest hurler to opt out

All-Star (2007) goalkeeper Brian Murray is the latest hurler to opt out of the Limerick hurling panel.
Brian Murray’s departure brings to eight the number of players to walk away from Justin McCarthy’s panel in the aftermath of his initial wholesale changes to the panel. Of Limerick’s panel of 31 this season, just 10 now remain.
Brian Murray joins James O’Brien, Brian Geary, Seamus Hickey, Donal O’Grady, Wayne McNamara, Damien Reale and James Ryan on the list of hurlers who have withdrawn from the panel in protest.
It emerged over the weekend that some of the players have also declined a meeting with Justin McCarthy.
“Justin has said he is available to talk to any player who wishes to meet him,” confirmed Limerick County Board PRO Helen Cross.
“But I understand that they have declined his offer,” said the Ahane woman.
The PRO said that the decision taken last week by leading Limerick GAA officials to give a unanimous vote of confidence to the hurling management was not taken lightly.
“At a meeting of the county Management Committee in the Gaelic Grounds on Wednesday night (October 18) it was decided unanimously to support Justin McCarthy and his management team for 2010.
“The meeting ran from 7.30pm to 11.30pm - they went through everything and just felt that they needed to support Justin McCarthy as manager,” she said.
“The meeting was told that Justin will leave his door open for any of the players and is willing to talk to them.
“It’s a pity that things like this have to happen, but hopefully it will be resolved, because these situations can take a while to recover,” added Cross.
The PRO pointed out that Justin McCarthy’s reign in charge was given the backing of the clubs of the county at the October County Board meeting.
However the latest saga to engulf Limerick hurling only broke in late October.
“After the performance in Croke Park you would have imagined that they’d have come out with all guns blazing, but maybe time is a great healer and dissatisfaction was not as prominent as might have been expected and the clubs ratified the appointment at October’s meeting,” she recalled.
Meanwhile on the field of play Limerick junior A hurling champions Blackrock have booked their place in the Munster final - on December 13 they will meet Fermoy in the decider.
After last Friday night’s extra-time county final win over Glin Mountcollins again needed extra-time yesterday afternoon to overcome Tipp’s Knockavilla Kickhams. Next Sunday Mountcollins will travel to Waterford to face Kilgobnet in the Munster junior A football championship semi-final. South Liberties won the Munster intermediate hurling title yesterday and they now travel to London in three weeks time to face St. Gabriel’s in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

JEROME O’CONNELL

Marathon planned for Limerick

AFTER a 25-year absence Limerick city is to host a marathon in 2010.
On May 2 next the Great Limerick Run is expected to bring over 7,000 athletes to the streets of Limerick.
The Great Limerick Run will be the first ever time that a 10k, half marathon and full marathon have been held in the same location in one day and promises to be the most exciting event on the Irish running calendar next year.
Leading Limerick athlete Rosemary Ryan, former Limerick hurler Ollie Moran and comedian Karl Spain joined forces this Monday morning to launch the exciting initiative which will be part of the May Bank Holiday Riverfest festivities.
“Athletics has always been a huge participation sport in Limerick and its surrounding areas and I’m ecstatic that we will now have a world calibre event on our doorstep.
“By focusing not just on a marathon, but also a half marathon and a 10k, the event really is all inclusive and caters not just for full-time athletes, but also those looking to get fit, have fun and raise some money for charity,” said Rosemary Ryan.
Martin Tynan is to be the event organiser: “Limerick’s sporting tradition is second to none and as a group we have been working behind the scenes for the last 18 months in an attempt to fill the last big void in Limerick’s sporting calendar.
“The Great Limerick Run not only sees a marathon return to our native city for the first time in over 25 years, but also provides the runners of all calibres and experience a means of taking part with a half marathon and 10k option,” said Tynan.
Officials have formulated a route that will offer a challenge to the elite athletes, but which will also help showcase the historical and modern parts of the city to participants and spectators alike and another key element of the event is the opportunity for local charities to benefit.
The Great Limerick Run is being supported by Shannon Development, Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council, Limerick Sports Partnership, Limerick Regeneration Agency, the Limerick Coordination Office and the Sporting Limerick promotional brand.
Full details are available on www.greatlimerickrun.com.

JEROME O’CONNELL

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Limerick plunged into crisis

LIMERICK hurling was plunged deep into crisis this Wednesday night when four more players walked away from Justin McCarthy’s senior hurling panel.
The latest to quit in protest are Brian Geary, Donal O’Grady, Seamus Hickey and Wayne McNamara.


As Ireland’s World Cup soccer torture was unfolding in Paris, Limerick GAA officials were meeting in the Gaelic Grounds where confirmation of the latest withdrawals were made known to the executive officers.
Leader Sport understands that the quartet contacted Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan last evening to confirm their decision to follow Damien Reale and James Ryan out of the panel in protest at the manner of McCarthy’s wholesale changes.
Geary, O’Grady, Hickey and McNamara would represent a wealth of inter-county experience.
Hickey was this season nominated for a GPA All-Star while Geary and O’Grady have amassed over 60 championship appearances between them. Monaleen centre-back Geary made his Limerick debut back in 1999 while O’Grady is a midfield regular since 2004.
Three weeks ago, on October 28, Justin McCarthy called a meeting of the remainder of his 2009 panel to plan for the new season and it became clear that regulars such as Mark Foley, Stephen Lucey, Niall Moran, Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Donie Ryan and Mike O’Brien had all been omitted. Within days Damien Reale and James Ryan withdrew from the panel in protest.
Now a further four players have departed leaving McCarthy, Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey with just 12 players remaining from the 2009 panel that was beaten by 24-points in the All-Ireland semi-final by Tipperary.
Leader Sport contacted manager Justin McCarthy this Thursday morning, but he only offered “no comment”.
Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan and secretary Mike O’Riordan were also contacted, but neither were willing to comment only to say that PRO Helen Cross would issue a statement. The brief statement has reiterated that the officers of the county board are continuing to give their full backing to Justin McCarthy.
“At a meeting of the management committee of Limerick County Board it was decided unanimously to support Justin McCarthy and his management team for 2010,” explained the one-line statement from the executive.
Until this Wednesday’s night’s dramatic withdrawals it had been hoped that the fall-out from McCarthy’s wholesale changes to the Limerick senior hurling panel had petered out.
With the endorsement of Limerick GAA officials McCarthy, Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey had continued their progress towards assembled a new panel. Two full-strength teams lined up in Martinstown last Friday night and another trial game is planned to take place on the weekend after next.
Management plan to take a break at that point until the New Year when another trial will help them select their final panel ahead of the first round of the Waterford Crystal Cup in mid-January.
The planned trial on the weekend of November 28-29 would offer management an opportunity to look at a number of players that missed the earlier trials as their clubs were involved in local and provincial championships. However, this saga will no doubt take a number of twists before the next planned trials.
There will, no doubt, be calls for the removal of Justin McCarthy even though he has been afforded the backing of all Limerick GAA chiefs.
Back in the summer of 2008 when McCarthy lost the support of the Waterford players, he resigned.
Over 30 per cent of McCarthy’s initial 2010 panel of 18 have now walked out and that was after his initial clearout of another 30 per cent of the 2009 panel.
Just 12 members of the 2009 panel remain and the focus will now turn in their direction.

Jerome O’Connell

Clubs of the county must have their say

IT is unconceivable that Limerick would start the 2010 National Hurling League without over a dozen of Shannonside’s most experienced inter-county hurlers.
Many supporters had given their backing to Justin McCarthy’s initial clear-out of his panel as that was his right to do so as team manager - albeit most would not have been in favour of his lack of communication with the affected players.
However when the likes of Brian Geary, Damien Reale, Donal O’Grady, Seamus Hickey, James Ryan and Wayne McNamara walk away from the panel in protest, the situation reaches crisis-point.


Justin McCarthy is more than entitled to make any changes he wishes to his panel, but he must also be responsible for the man-management of all players.
His wholesale changes have also had a domino affect with Damien Reale and the recently-retired Ollie Moran both quoted in the national media questioning aspects of McCarthy’s training as well as the manner in which he dropped players.
To see six experienced and highly-respected players walking away from any panel sounds alarm bells and McCarthy’s position could come under threat if a full meeting of the County Board were to be scheduled.
Simply, hurling in the county is not strong enough to compete at the highest level without this calibre of player.
Justin McCarthy and selectors Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey could plough forward with the 12 remaining members of the 2009 panel and select another 20 from the on-going trials, but Limerick would be left with a most inexperienced panel - of the 12 players that remain on the inter-county panel, seven of them only made their championship debuts this summer. Just Brian Murray and James O’Brien could be seen as experienced campaigners.
The remaining ten players (Tom Condon, Paul Browne, David Breen, Denis Moloney, David Moloney, Graeme Mulcahy, Gavin O’Mahony, Bryan O’Sullivan, Paudie McNamara & Stephen Walsh) have a total of just 31 senior championship appearances between them.
What happens if results are not favourable when the league starts in late-February?
It’s too late at that point to re-visit this crisis.
Firstly a full meeting of Limerick County Board must be called immediately to gauge the feeling of all club delegates.
And, what would be vital is that all delegates should be have already canvassed the feelings of their respective clubs before attending.
At this point 11 clubs of the 69 in the county have seen club players walk away or dropped from the inter-county panel.
If the clubs of the county want to back McCarthy and his management team so be it.
The executive officers of Limerick GAA have given their backing to Justin McCarthy, but it’s time they asked the clubs they represent for their views on the crisis.

Jerome O’Connell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hurling panel controversy peters out

THE fall-out from Justin McCarthy’s wholesale changes to the Limerick senior hurling panel appears to have petered out.
And, it appears that the players have accepted McCarthy’s decision to cull a significent number of the squad for ‘disciplinary’ reasons.


No meeting of the entire 2009 panel has taken place, nor has there been any meeting between players and management, although County Board officials did meet with Justin McCarthy during the past week.
A meeting of the executive of Limerick GAA was to discuss the issue this Wednesday night while the first opportunity for club delegates to raise any concerns will come on December 7 when the Annual Convention takes place in Caherconlish.
Meanwhile it’s onwards and upwards as McCarthy Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey continue to assemble their new panel.
Two full-strength teams lined up in Martinstown last Friday night and another trial game will take place on the weekend after next.
Management will then break until the New Year when another trial will help them select their final panel ahead of the first round of the Waterford Crystal Cup in mid-January.
The trial on the weekend of November 28-29 will offer management an opportunity to look at a number of players that missed the earlier trials as their clubs were involved in local and provincial championships.
As the current Limerick bye-law stipulates Adare will provide the county captain for 2010 and at present Wayne McNamara is the only member of the three-in-a-row winning side on the inter-county panel.
The future of Mark Foley remains unclear, but his recent performances for Adare would suggest that he clearly has something to offer on the hurling field in 2010, be it with Limerick or just with his club.
One player of note to attend the second series of trials last Friday night was Tadhg Flynn, the former Kerry goalkeeper who has lined out with Ahane in recent seasons.
With Dave Bulfin withdrawing from the panel for personal reasons, management are looking at a number of goalkeeping options including Flynn, Barry Hennessy and Aaron Murphy.
Another position that management will have to identify is that of free-taker with regular placed-ball experts Andrew O’Shaughnessy and Niall Moran both omitted from the panel at present. The 16 players that remain from the 2009 panel are to continue to work on their personal gym programmes for the months of November and December.
Scor
THE AGM of County Scor Committee will take place on Friday November 20 at 8pm in the Woodlands House Hotel.
Dan Hickey, PRO for Limerick’s Scor committee is hoping that all clubs actively organise and promote Scor activity in their own areas.
“All clubs are strongly urged to be represented at this meeting so as to continue process of re-invigoration of Scor in the county,” said Hickey.
The county final of Scor will take place on December 11 in Askeaton. Ardagh is the venue for the west final on November 22 while the south final will take place in Banogue on November 27. The city final will take place on December 2 in Our Lady Queen of Peace School, Janesboro while the east final will be in Cappamore on December 5.

Jerome O’Connell

Scully dismisses ‘pub league’ description of First Division

LIMERICK FC manager Pat Scully has dismissed Shaun Williams’ assertion that the League of Ireland First Division was a “pub league”.


On Friday the Sporting Fingal winger, on the eve of their promotion play-off against Bray Wanderers, said that it would be heartbreaking to miss out on promotion to the Premier Division and be condemned to another season in the First Division.
“Obviously it would be heartbreaking to get this far and to be pegged back for another year, it’d be terrible,” the 23-year-old winger told the Irish Independent.
“The First Division is like a pub league compared to the Premier Division. The standard of player and facilities is just 10 times better in the Premier -- the First Division is horrendous in comparison.”
“Every league has a two-tier system so you are always going to have a situation where one division is slightly weaker and made up of younger players who need to develop before they become Premier Division players. You can’t dispute that,” Pat Scully said.
“But that was an arrogant comment to make. All players have to start somewhere. It’s easy to look at a lower level and criticise it. I’ve no problems with the First Division at all. There’s plenty of good clubs and good players in it.”
Pat Scully was also surprised that a Sporting Fingal player would make such a comment about the division - after all Sporting did not win the First Division and required a play-off win over Bray Wanderers (4-2 on aggregate) to book their place in next season’s Premier Division.
“The funny thing is that Sporting Fingal had the biggest budget this year in the First Division and because of that they should have won the division,” Pat Scully said.
“Instead they had to get through a play-off with Bray Wanderers to be promoted. So it’s a bit hypocritical for a player from that team to criticise the division after they failed to win it in the first place.
“Shaun is entitled to his opinion, afterall football is all about opinions, but, for me, the First Division has a lot of plusses, a lot of good players and a lot of good facilities.
“From our own point of view we have some things to improve on and work on. And, we’re working hard to move the club forward.”
Supporters will be heartened to learn that Limerick FC have already signed 11 players for the 2010 season and that they have made approaches to sign up to six more players to strengthen the squad.
Super Blues fans will be most concerned about the future of striker Stephen O’Flynn who scored 14 goals since he joined Limerick FC in July. It is widely understood that several rival clubs have their eye on O’Flynn, but Pat Scully is hopeful that the talented centre-forward will sign for another season.
“Stephen has really enjoyed his time with Limerick and we know that other people are trying to sign him,” Scully added.
“We’ve met with Stephen and we have done everything we can to convince him to stay, so we hope that he will.”
Although the Limerick FC playing squad missed out on a proper pre-season campaign for the past two years Pat Scully will not allow that to happen this time round.
The squad have already received details a three-week programme which each individual player must carry out before pre-season starts on January 16 next while the club are also currently attempting to organise a series of pre-season friendlies.

Brian McDonnell

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

McNamara aims to take his place on pro tour

TALENTED young Limerick golfer Cian McNamara will hope to take a major step towards securing his card on the European Tour for next year when he competes in the second stage of qualifying in Jerez, Spain beginning on Friday.


Limerick Golf Club’s Cian McNamara will be hoping to make it through from a field of almost 80 players to the final stage of qualifying which takes place at the PGA Golf de Cataluyna in Spain from November 28 to December 3.
Twenty-three-year-old McNamara, the youngest ever South of Ireland champion at just 18 in 2004 turned professional in June of last year.
He successfully completed a four-year golf scholarship at East Tennessee State University before graduating with a Degree in Business Science specialising in Sports Management.
Since 1976 the European Tour Qualifying School has been held at the end of each season to establish which players, not otherwise exempt, will gain their playing privileges on the tour for the following season through a qualifying competition.
Former Junior Open champion Cian McNamara, from Ballyclough, successfully came through the first round of qualifying at Golf de Moliets in France earlier this year. McNamara hit a two-under 70 in his closing round for an eight-under 280 and shared 12th behind runaway winner Carlos Balmaseda of Spain
In order to make it through to the third and final stage of qualifying he will need to come through this week’s 72-hole event at the Arcos Gardens course. The qualifier starts on Friday and continues until Monday over the par 72 course which measures 7,383 yards.
The final stage takes place over 108 holes or six rounds at PGA Golf de Cataluyna from November 28 to December 3.
The leading 30 players, plus those tied for 30th place, will earn Category 11b Membership of The European Tour for 2010 which expires at the end of that season.
In winning the Shell Ireland sponsored South of Ireland title at Lahinch in 2004 Cian McNamara produced two stunning extra time comebacks.
The Limerick ace, then 18, beat big Greg Bowden of Hermitage at the 21st in the decider after seeing off Richard Kilpatrick at the 20th in the semi-finals.

Colm Kinsella

Earls in line for Irish team

MUNSTER rugby star Keith Earls is in line to add to his tally of Irish caps in the coming weeks with confirmation that Luke Fitzgerald is set to be sidelined for between four and six months due to a knee injury.


Twenty-two-year-old Keith Earls replaced the injured Fitzgerald during the second half of Ireland’s thrilling 20-20 draw with Australia at Croke Park on Sunday.
Following medical review and scans of his left knee it has been confirmed that Fitzgerald sustained a ruptured lateral collateral ligament which requires surgery and intensive post-operative rehabilitation.
The talented winger, who toured South Africa with the Lions in the summer, will miss Ireland’s remaining autumn Tests and the defence of their RBS 6 Nations title in the spring.
He was scheduled for surgery at the Sports Surgery Clinic this Tuesday with a projected recovery period of four to six months.
Former St. Nessan’s Community College and St. Munchin’s College star Earls is set to add to the two caps he won last season with Ireland due to play Fiji at the RDS this Saturday (5.15pm) and South Africa at Croke Park on Saturday week (2.30pm) in their final two autumn internationals.
The versatile Limerickman scored two tries for the Lions during this summer’s tour to South Africa and would relish the opportunity to pit his wits against the world champions in a Test match.
Keith Earls enjoyed a sensational international debut 12 months ago when he scored a try with virtually his first touch of the ball against Canada at Thomond Park.
Earls won his second cap a week later when introduced as a replacement against the All Blacks at Croke Park.
Earls, who has played on the wing, in the centre and at full-back was a member of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning under-20 side in 2007.
He scored in each of Ireland’s A team matches at the 2007 Churchill Cup before making his full international debut last autumn.
Fourteen players have been added to the Ireland squad in the lead-up to the international clash with Fiji on Saturday. They include Munster players Tony Buckley, Denis Hurley, Felix Jones and Peter Stringer.
Meanwhile a number of Limerick-based players have been included in two Ireland under-19 squads which have been named to face Australian opposition in the coming weeks.
Two St. Munchin’s College players have been selected for the Ireland under-19 Schools squad to face their Australian counterparts at UCD on Friday, November 27 at 3pm.
Lukas Kunz, St. Munchin’s, is one of 10 backs selected for the squad while his school mate Tom Goggin is one of 13 forwards named in the squad for the game. The Ireland under-19 schools squad is coached by Terry McMaster and Bobby Byrne.
The Ireland under-19 squad, coached by Allen Clarke with Colin McEntee and Jonathan Bell, will play the Australian under-19s at Cork IT on December 2 (7pm).
Included among the 10 backs selected for that squad is Shannon’s Gareth Quinn-McDonagh.
On the club rugby front Garryowen are the only Limerick side to have made it through to this weekend’s quarter-finals of the AIB Cup. The ‘light blues’ face a tricky game against Blackrock at Stradbrook (2.30pm).
Garryowen advanced to the last eight of the competition with a convincing home victory over St. Mary’s College at Dooradoyle.
While Garryowen’s scheduled All-Ireland League game with Dolphin at Dooradoyle on Saturday last was postponed due to an unplayable pitch, Blackrock College suffered a home defeat to Shannon.

Colm Kinsella

Monday, November 16, 2009

Andy Lee’s thoughts turn to a potential clash with Macklin

IT will be a number of weeks before Andy Lee charts his next step forward in his pro-boxing career.
The 25-year-old middleweight is to enjoy a few weeks at home in Castleconnell before turning his attention to his future.


The former St. Francis Boxing Club Olympian brought his pro record to 20 wins from 21 bouts on Saturday night when securing a ten-round points win over reigning European Union and French champion Affif Belghecham at a packed UL Arena.
There was no title on the line on Saturday, but Lee now believes that he is getting closer to a title fight.
“That guy was rated in the European ratings so that should move me up the European ratings.
“The middleweight scene outside of Kelly Pavlik is European-based so now it is good to have a foothold in the ratings,” Lee told Leader Sport after Saturday’s fight.
Lee, his manager Emanuel Steward, coach Joey Gamache, promoter Brian Peters and advisor Damien McCann will all be involved in the discussions as to the next step for the Limerick man.
Steward wasn’t in Limerick for Lee’s third fight in his native city as he had television commitments in Las Vegas for Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Miguel Cotto.
Indeed the Detroit-based Hall of Fame coach didn’t have much input into Lee’s preparations for the fight as Lee has spent recent months in New York and was largely under the watchful eye of one of Steward able assistants Joey Gamache.
“The whole team needs to sit down and we’ll take it one fight at a time,” said Lee.
“I am in good shape - I could fight again next week!,” said a smiling Andy Lee after his latest win.
It could be February before Lee returns to the ring, but already thoughts are turning to next summer and a potential title fight against fellow Irish man Matthew Macklin who is the reigning European middleweight champion.
Macklin beat Finnish fighter Amin Asikainen at the Manchester Velodrome, England in September to collect the vacant belt and defends it on December 5 when Macklin meets Uruguayan Rafael Sosa Pintos at the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin and then in the New Year he has a European title defence against Dmitry Pirog before any thoughts could turn to a potential clash with Lee.
“July or August in Thomond Park would be fantastic, but if it happens, it happens,” said Andy Lee.
“It’s a natural fight,” said Lee of a potential fight against Macklin who was introduced to the crowd in the UL Arena on Saturday night.
“There is no bad blood between us - when we fight each other it is going to be a big fight. It would be nice to have a financial benefit from it, but even a European title fight would be big between us. I don’t think either of us would dodge each other,” said Lee.
“The middleweight division in Ireland is in great shape right now, but apart from Pavlik it is all about the Germans and I think we are right there.
“Matthew would fancy his chances now and John (Duddy) and with another few fights I would be ready too.”

JEROME O’CONNELL

Joy for Niland in Niceville

ALTHOUGH Limerick tennis star Conor Niland had suffered the heartache of losing two ITF Futures tour finals in recent weeks, the Irish number one broke his duck last night in Niceville, Florida with a stunning win.


Four weeks ago Niland lost the final of the F18 Futures event in France to Antony Dupuis (3-6, 6-4, 4-6) and then last week the 28-year-old lost the final of the USA F27 Futures event to Austria’s James Lemke (6-4, 4-6, 5-7) in Birmingham, Alabama.
Conor Niland however exacted revenge over his Austrian counterpart last evening when the Limerick man won in very impressive fashion.
Lemke won the first set 6-3, but Niland gritted his teeth and battled back to win the second 6-4. Then, in the deciding set, Niland was irresistable winning by a stunning six games to love.
Niland was installed as the number one seed for the clay court event.
In the first round he defeated the USA’s Matt Cloer 6-2, 6-3. He then saw off Junior Ore (USA) 6-3, 6-3 before beating Norway’s Erling Tveit 6-3, 6-1 at the quarter-final stage.
The USA’s Denis Kudla blocked Niland’s path in the semi-finals, but Conor made light work of the American winning 6-3, 6-2 to set up a final with James Lemke.
The win represents Conor Niland’s third win on the ITF Futures circuit - the Irish number one also won a Futures title in Limerick and Bournemouth.
Niland’s biggest achievement however occured when the Limerick man won the ITF Challenger Tour event in New Delphi last year.
Conor Niland, who played in the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open in the last two years will be hoping to now build on this encouraging victory.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

McCarthy presses on

DESPITE the uncertainty surrounding the Limerick senior hurling panel manager Justin McCarthy is preparing to forge ahead with his rebuilding programme this Friday night.
The second of three planned trial games takes place underlights in the GAA grounds of Staker Wallace, but no member of the 2009 county senior panel can take part due to the GAA’s ‘closed season’ - all inter-county panels are prohibited from collective training during the months of November and December.


Leader Sport understands that Limerick GAA officials will then take the opportunity to sit down with the hurling management to discuss recent events and plans for the future.
This Friday night’s trial game will involve players that were identified by the management team during the local championships and others who were nominated by their clubs.
Two weeks ago only 25 players togged out for the first trial game - 13 newcomers and 12 from the 2009 panel.
And it now appears that McCarthy, Brian Ryan and Liam Garvey will be left with one of the most inexperienced Limerick panels ever when the 2010 season commences with a Waterford Crystal Cup quarter-final clash against either Cork or UCC in mid-January.
Rumours are still widespread as to the future of some remaining panel members, but none have made official decisions.
Of the 16 players that remain on the inter-county panel, just five players (Brian Geary, Donal O’Grady, Brian Murray, Seamus Hickey & James O’Brien) could be considered experienced campaigners.
The remaining 11 players (Tom Condon, Paul Browne, David Breen, Denis Moloney, David Moloney, Graeme Mulcahy, Gavin O’Mahony, Bryan O’Sullivan, Paudie McNamara, Wayne McNamara & Stephen Walsh) have a total of just 34 senior hurling appearances between them.

Jerome O’Connell

Kidney sounds a note of caution

IRELAND rugby coach Declan Kidney has sounded a note of caution ahead of Sunday’s big Guinness Series clash with Australia at Croke Park, pointing out that the Grand Slam winners have only beaten the Wallabies twice in their 10 meetings during rugby’s professional era.
Kidney’s Ireland begin their three-match autumn international series with a fixture against an Australian side boosted by their victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Sunday’s meeting at GAA headquarters has a 3pm kick-off.
Head coach Kidney is hoping Ireland build on their Grand Slam heroics of last March, but he stressed that the team was under no illusion about the size of the task facing them in the coming weeks with Test matches against Australia, followed by fixtures with Fiji and World champions, South Africa.


“Last year we played one Tri-Nations team and came a bad second to New Zealand. They (Tri-Nations teams) are the next target for us,” Declan Kidney pointed out.
“This year we have four games against Tri-Nations teams and we play Australia twice; they are the first game of our international season and the last game.
“We’re under no illusions as to the size of the task that we’re up against and we know the difficulties and the challenges that we are up against. Ireland have played Australia 10 times in the professional era and only won two of them.
“Ireland v Australia matches have always been good clashes and we are looking forward to it.’
“Our job is to put in the best performance we can against Australia. That is definitely the priority. Have we been working on plans towards the World Cup in 2011? We certainly have, towards fixtures and planning. That is what we have been doing.
“It is a time to park that now and get ready for this because you want to get you want to build momentum and you want to build confidence.
“Working towards the next World Cup, given that Australia are in our group, means that we should concentrate 100% on playing Australia.”
Ireland’s Australian-born backs coach, Alan Gaffney said there are clear signs that the Wallabies are developing into a top class team.
Former Munster coach Gaffney, who also spent time as back coach to the Wallabies said: “I think Australia are very close to being a very good side. I don’t think they are too far away at the present time.
“There are areas of their great, I am sure, they would like to improve on. But across the board now, I think they are a very good side.
“They have a good set-piece generally. Their scrum is very competitive now where there were years in the past when it hadn’t been. And they have a very good backline.
“They have the makings of a very good team.”
Meanwhile, Munster’s new South African prop Wian du Preez has been named on the Springboks’ replacements’ bench for their Test match with France in Toulouse this Friday night (7.45pm).
Du Preez, who is due to join up with Munster squad in time for the December 5 Magners League tie with the Ospreys, is the only uncapped player included in the Springboks’ 22 for the Test match with France at the Stade Municipal.
Munster confirmed this week that Cheetahs loosehead prop du Preez will join the Magners League champions on a short term contract once his commitments with the Springboks current tour of Europe is complete later this month.
With Marcus Horan and Dave Ryan ruled out through illness and injury respectively until after Christmas, and Darragh Hurley also on the injured list, Munster confirmed that the 27-year-old du Preez would be joining the squad until the end of January.
Du Preez was originally omitted from the Springboks squad for the current tour, which ends with a Test match against ireland at Croke Park on Saturday, November 28.
However, he was called up to Peter de Villiers squad over the weekend along with Cheetahs team-mate Adriaan Strauss.
Subject to obtaining clearance from his home Union, obtaining a work permit and passing the normal medical procedures, du Preez will join up with the squad in time for the Ospreys game which takes place the week before Munster resume their Heineken Cup campaign against Perpignan at Thomond Park on Friday, December 11.

Colm Kinsella

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Axel Foley backs the British and Irish Cup

MUNSTER A head coach Anthony Foley is confident the new British & Irish Cup competition, which begins on Saturday week, will be hugely beneficial to players aiming to make a break through into the province’s first team squad.
Munster A will start the inaugural British & Irish Cup with a visit to English Championship side Coventry on Saturday, November 21.


The province’s A side will host Bristol Rugby in their opening home fixture in Pool B at Nenagh Ormond RFC’s grounds on November 27 - that game will have a 7.30pm kick-off time.
Munster A continue their programme of group games in February 2010 with a home fixture against Nottingham on Saturday, February 13 before travelling to The Gnoll to take on Neath two weeks later.
The Munster A squad, which is also under the guidance of assistant coach Ian Costello and team manager Mick Galwey, complete their programme of pool games with a home fixture against Heriot’s on March 6.
The semi-finals of the Cup are due to take place on April 24, 2010 with the final scheduled for May 15 of next year.
Munster A coach Anthony Foley believes the new competition is ‘a great idea’ and a way for developing players to put themselves in the shop window for senior selection.
“I think it’s a great idea. It gives us the chance to expose lads to a level they haven’t experienced before and hopefully help them along the way to a place in the senior squad,” Anthony Foley said.
“Obviously, we haven’t a lot to work on in terms of our opposition, but we had a sort of sneak preview with the Bristol v Coventry game that was on television recently.
“It certainly heightened the excitement levels and we’re definitely looking forward to it.”
Following up on their win at Shaw’s Bridge last month Munster A completed the double over the Ulster Ravens with a comfortable 30-8 victory in ideal conditions at Musgrave Park on Friday last.
Munster join two other Irish provinces, Leinster and Ulster, 12 teams from the English Championship, six from the Welsh Principality Premiership and three Scottish sides in the new competition.
Games will take place over the extended weekends, from Thursday to Sunday and will not conflict at any point in the season with the AIB league weekends or the latter stages of the AIB Cup.
Meanwhile two Munster players have been named in the Ireland A side to face Tonga at Ravenhill this Friday night. (7.35pm). Experienced scrum-half Peter Stringer has been selected to start against the Tongans as well as lock Donncha Ryan.
A vacancy has been left at hooker pending the Ireland team announcement tomorrow.
Ireland A: Gavin Duffy (Connacht); Shane Horgan (Leinster) Captain, Darren Cave (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster); Ian Humphreys (Ulster), Peter Stringer (Munster); Brett Wilkinson (Connacht, A.N. Other, Mike Ross (Leinster); Devin Toner (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster); Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Neil Best (Northampton Saints) & Chris Henry (Ulster).
Replacement: Denis Fogarty (Munster), Bryan Young (Ulster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Isaac Boss (Ulster), Ian Keatley (Connacht) & Johne Murphy (Leicester Tigers).

COLM KINSELLA

Andy Lee faces a tough task

BREAKING into the world’s top 10 is to the forefront of Andy Lee’s thoughts ahead of his third pro-fight in Limerick.
The 25-year-old former St. Francis Boxing Club Olympian faces reigning French and European Union Champion Affif Belghecham this Saturday night in the Yanjing Fight Night at the University Sports Arena.


The Limerick middleweight is seeking a win that will lift him into contention for a world title fight.
“I am expecting a hard fight. It is a risky enough fight. I had better be on my best to beat him,” said Andy Lee of his fight which will be televised live on RTE 2.
“Two of the world champions are from Europe so it is good to be ranked in Europe.
“This guy is highly ranked so if I can beat him it will be a good step forward. It’s good to remind people what you can do. This guy is ranked above me so if I can beat him it will be a small statement. It is a significant enough fight; it will be a real test,” Lee told Leader Sport yesterday when launching the new Honours Degree in Business Studies with Sports Management in LIT.
“If I can go out and impress and look good it will be a nice way to finish up the year and set me up nicely for next year,” said the ambitious Castleconnell southpaw.
“I love coming home to Limerick and every time I fight there it’s a special occasion for me. I’ve always had great support from the people of Limerick and I’ll be hoping to repay some of that support with a big performance on Saturday night. I don’t think there is any other city that loves it’s sport as much as Limerick,” he explained.
In what should be a memorable night of sport Lee will be joined in the ring by the only other two Limerick professional boxers, Jamie Power and Willie Casey.
Power will be hoping to return to winning ways after his defeat to Michael Sweeney on the undercard of Bernard Dunne’s loss to Thai boxer Pooswat Kratingdaenggym.
“Since I turned professional 18 months ago I have received great support, but since my first and only loss to Mike Sweeney in my last contest that support has increased hugely. People are stopping me on the street wishing me the best, telling me not to be too disappointed about the loss and look to the future. It really has been humbling.
“I firmly believe there is no other place in the world not to mind the country that I would receive this backing from the sporting public,” said Power.
Jamie has split his training between St. Francis BC and the UL Sports Arena.
“The training in my old amateur club is great - my coaches Finbarr and Mario push me to the limit every time as do the other boxers in the club. I have trained all over the world and can honestly say I have not trained in a better amateur club. It’s little wonder both Andy and I have done so well with the skills we learned there,” he said.
“I am already on my fighting weight and I feel fresher and more confident than I ever have before a fight. I really can’t see myself leaving that ring Saturday night without a win. I just want to do Limerick proud,” said the Caherconlish resident.
Also among the six bouts on the night will be Willie Casey, who will be attempting to extend his unbeaten record to three wins in his fledging career.
On Saturday night fans wishing to watch all the action from Croke Park between Ireland and France will be catered for with the game shown live on the big screens at the UL Arena while a full bar and food court will also be available.
Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night priced from €40 are available from Ticketmaster, The George Boutique Hotel in Limerick and all usual outlets.

Jerome O’Connell

Monday, November 09, 2009

Board back McCarthy

LIMERICK GAA chairman Liam Lenihan has given his full backing to embattled senior hurling manager Justin McCarthy.
And, Lenihan is to meet with a number of individual players in the coming days in an effort to solve the current impasse surrounding Limerick hurling.


“At the October County Board meeting, when we discussed the defeat to Tipperary, I said that Justin had a two-year term and there was no one against it and that’s still the same,” Lenihan told Leader Sport this Monday morning.
The next full meeting of Limerick GAA officials and club delegates will not take place until the Annual Convention in December.
The chairman said that only something “extraordinary” would result in the scheduling of a special County Board meeting.
“The door is still open to all players,” stressed Lenihan.
“The management are to hold another trial this Friday and another one later in the month.
“When all the trials are finished, they will sit down and look at everybody before finalising their panel,” explained the chairman.
Already Damien Reale and James Ryan have departed McCarthy’s squad in protest at the extensive changes to the inter-county panel.
Limerick GAA officials will hope that meetings in the coming days can insure that there are no further departures.
Meanwhile on Friday night Limerick GAA’s teams of the last 25 years were announced at a gala function in the Strand Hotel. Ciaran Carey was unveiled as Limerick’s hurler of the last 25 years while John Quane was honoured as the footballer of the last 25 years.
Hurling team: Tommy Quaid (Feohanagh/Effin); Steve McDonogh (Bruree), Leonard Enright (Patrickswell), Declan Nash (South Liberties), Dave Clarke (Kilmallock/Bruff), Ciaran Carey (Patrickswell), Mark Foley (Adare); Mike Houlihan (Kilmallock), Ger Hegarty (Old Christians); Paddy Kelly (Kilmallock), Gary Kirby (Patrickswell), Jimmy Carroll (Hospital-Herbertstown), TJ Ryan (Garryspillane), Joe McKenna (South Liberties) and Shane Fitzgibbon (Adare).
Football team: Richard Bowles (Oola); Johnny McCarthy (St Kierans), Paddy Ivess (Askeaton), Tommy Stack (Drom-B’dford); Stephen Lavin (Adare), Stephen Lucey (Croom), Conor Mullane (St Senans); John Galvin (Croom), John Quane (Galtee Gaels); Stephen Kelly (Newcastle West), Donal Fitzgibbon (Oola), Seanie Buckley (Drom-B’dford); Timmy Cummins (Galbally), Muiris Gavin (Monaleen), Micheal Reidy (Drom-B’dford).
On the playing field yesterday Blackrock were crowned county junior A hurling champions with a 2-18 to 1-16 win over Effin in Kilmallock while in Dromcollogher the county junior B hurling final ended all square - Kileedy 2-4 St. Mary’s-Sean Finns 0-10.
Next weekend Adare will travel to Pairc Ui Chaoimh to face Newtownshandrum in the Munster senior club hurling championship semi-final while on the local front the headline final will be the county junior A football championship final which will be an all-west affair between Glin and Mountcollins.

JEROME O’CONNELL

Munster are set to sign Wian du Preez

MUNSTER are set to sign Cheetahs loosehead prop Wian du Preez on a short-term deal which will include the remainder of the Heineken Cup pool matches.
With confirmation that Marcus Horan will be sidelined until after the New Year following a ‘routine medical procedure’, Munster were anxious to bolster their front row options ahead of key Heineken Cup and Magners League ties.
Twenty-seven-year-old Du Preez was the form loosehead in South Africa’s Currie Cup this season and was part of the Cheetahs’ front row that was considered the best scrummaging force in the competition.
Du Preez was a shock exclusion from the Springbok squad for the autumn internationals, but has since been called into the touring party for upcoming fixtures, including the Test against Ireland on November 21 and earlier games against both Italy and Guinness Premiership side Saracens.
Du Preez had been due to join up with his new Munster team-mates shortly, but his call-up into the Springboks squad for their tour of Europe is set to delay his arrival until after the World champions Test match with Ireland in Dublin. The Munster management team will be keeping their fingers crossed that Du Preez remains injury free during his involvement with the Springboks in the coming weeks.
Du Preez said he was looking forward to playing for ‘one of Europe’s powerhouses.’ The prop is expected to return to South Africa on January 25 in time for the Cheetahs’ Super 14 preparations.
“The deal has been sealed and I will be leaving next weekend for two months,” Du Preez is reported to have told keo.co.za.
“It will be a great experience. In the last three years Munster have won the European Cup twice.
“So it’s good to know I’ll be playing for one of Europe’s powerhouses.”
Du Preez added that he is looking forward to featuring alongside players like Springbok centre Jean de Villiers.
“It will be great to meet up with an excellent player like Jean.
“There are also many British and Irish Lions and other internationals in the squad so I will learn a lot during my time there.”
Du Preez’s signing is as a result of an irregularly used law within the ERC (European Cup Rugby) guidelines which allow clubs to select an additional player to replace one of the club’s squad provided they have a minimum three-month contract.
Du Preez should be available to play in four rounds of the Magners League and the final four pool matches in the Heineken Cup including the crucial back-to-back fixtures against Perpignan next month.
Marcus Horan will be unavailable for the majority of those games having undergone a medical procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
“Following further tests this week Horan underwent a routine medical procedure today and will undergo a period of rest over the next number of weeks,” the IRFU said in a statement.
“It is expected that he will be available to Munster and Ireland after the New Year.”
The original 39-man Irish panel for the Guinness Series has been divided into two separate squads with 31 players named in the senior squad which includes further player additions to the original panel.
A 22-man Ireland A squad to play Tonga at Ravenhill next Friday will be in camp in Belfast and the full team to play Tonga will be announced tomorrow.
The A squad has one remaining place to be filled in the hooker position. Sean Cronin, John Fogarty and Jerry Flannery have all been retained with the senior squad as Flannery continues to recover from a calf injury which has progressed well during this week.
Ireland face Australia in their opening game of the Guinness Series on Sunday next at Croke Park (3pm).

COLM KINSELLA

Heartbreak for Niland

FOR the second time in just three weeks Irish number one Conor Niland suffered defeat in an ITF Futures event in the United States.
Last night the 28-year-old Limerick man lost the final of the USA F27 Futures to Austria’s James Lemke.
Niland won the first set 6-4, but then lost the next two sets 4-6 and 5-7 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Three weeks previously Niland lost the final of the F18 Futures event in France to Antony Dupuis (3-6 6-4 4-6).
Niland, installed as the number one seed for the tournament in Alabama, won his first round clash with Great Britain’s Tim Bradshaw 6-1 6-2.
In the second round Niland lost the first set (4-6) to the USA’s Denis Kudla before winning the next two sets (6-3 6-3) in impressive fashion.
Norway’s Erling Tveit blocked Niland’s path in the quarter-finals but Niland made light of the Norwegian’s challenge winning 6-4 6-2.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Thursday, November 05, 2009

D-Day looms for Marcus Horan

DOUBTS over the participation of prop Marcus Horan in the upcoming autumn internationals are expected to be cleared up this weekend when the results of medical tests carried out on the 32-year-old are known.
Marcus Horan was replaced mid-way through the opening half of Munster’s Heineken Cup Pool match against Treviso at Thomond Park last month after reportedly feeling unwell.


Sixty six times capped Horan has been undergoing medical tests away from the Limerick-based Irish camp this week and the results of those tests are expected to be known this Friday.
Ireland will face Australia in the first of three games in the Guinness autumn international series on Sunday, November 15.
Irish coach Declan Kidney explained: “There are on-going investigations and, not being a medic, I wouldn’t know (exactly what is wrong). I know that Marcus is not able to train and it is just prudent. He is just getting looked after and as soon as we know more we will let you know. In this job you can’t afford to rule guys out until they are definitely out. He would need to be active next week to be involved with it.
“The investigations are taking place and the latest that we have is that they will have something concrete on Friday. I would only be adding to the rumours if I was to come out and say something now.
“But I was talking to him - he’s in good form - giving out to me as much as ever. He’s just not medically right. Sometimes you can talk about injuries in terms of calves and muscles, but this is something else. What it is I just don’t know yet.”

Jerry Flannery setback
Speaking at a press conference at the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel this Wednesday, Kidney also explained that Munster hooker Jerry Flannery had a setback in training this week.
Flannery hasn’t played since tearing his calf against Northampton in Munster’s opening Heineken Cup pool match in the middle of last month.
Flannery will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness before the clash with the Wallabies at Croke Park.
Kidney revealed that the Irish medical staff have had a number of injuries and ailments to deal with over the first two days of the Limerick camp.
“We have a number of players who are at different stages - Tomas (O’Leary), Paddy Wallace and Denis Leamy have colds,” Declan Kidney said.
“We got through training okay this morning (Wednesday), but we just had to work our way through it.
“With the lads playing last weekend, and that’s what we would have wanted as you don’t want to go too long without a game, but you don’t want to cut it too short either.
“Rob (Kearney) was out, Gordon D’Arcy played a little bit of a part this morning as did Brian (O’Driscoll). The non-contact stuff basically for the two of those.
“Tony Buckley is rehabbing away (on a calf injury) and that’s probably one of the more long-term ones. It will probably be a week or so before he gets back into it. Jerry (Flannery) didn’t tog out today, Leo Cullen is rehabbing and Paddy Wallace will hopefully get back into things tomorrow.”

Team captain
Declan Kidney also confirmed that Brian O’Driscoll will continue as Ireland captain for their opening internationals of the new season.
Coach Kidney said: “Paul (O’Connell) has captained the Lions and captained Munster quite well, Donncha (O’Callaghan) has captained the Lions and Ronan (O’Gara) has captained the Lions. Ronan has captained with Munster and Ireland also.
“In Brian’s case, he brings a lot of experience to it, like the other lads would do, he is motoring well at the moment so we just felt it prudent.
“It’s been a long time since we were together, six or seven months, so, for continuity and for a whole host of reasons really, we decided to stay with him.”
But the Irish management team will continue to take a series by series approach to the captaincy, meaning that they may opt for a new man when Ireland defend their Six Nations title in the spring.
“It’s like we dealt with it last year, it is just on a series by series basis,” Kidney continued.
“That helps in Brian’s case, too, as it doesn’t heap pressure on him for a whole year and allows him to come in and be captain and then just get on with his game in December and January. We will see him again come February, but I think any one of a host of guys could actually do that.”
Ireland’s current 39-man squad will be whittled down to 30 players this Friday, with the team and replacements to face Australia being named on Wednesday afternoon.

Munster A
James Coughlan will lead Munster A, in their final before the start of the British and Irish Cup, when they take on Ulster in Musgrave Park on Friday afternoon (2pm).
The side shows just five changes, three in the backs and two up front, from the one that saw off Leinster 21-15 last time out in Clonmel RFC.
Ian Nagle- injured on that occasion- returns to partner Dave Foley in the second row, while the experienced Damien Varley comes into the front row in place of Mike Sherry who is included on the bench.
In the backs, injury rules Duncan Williams out and Paul Rowley steps up to partner Declan Cusack while coach Anthony Foley can call on senior international Denis Hurley and A international Felix Jones to replace Danny Barnes and Ronan O’Mahony respectively.
O’Mahony is named on the bench and Barnes will be on duty tomorrow for the Munster Academy when they take on the Ireland U20s in Athlone.

Munster A: Danny Riordan; Felix Jones,Tom Gleeson, Scott Deasy, Denis Hurley; Declan Cusack, Paul Rowley; Dave Kilcoyne, Damian Varley, Stephen Archer; Ian Nagle, Dave Foley; Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan (Capt).
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Christy Condon, Kieran Essex, Pater O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Ronan O’Mahony, Eric Maloney.

Colm Kinsella

Could it end in a strike?

A meeting of members of the 2009 Limerick senior hurling panel will take place this week as the unrest over Justin McCarthy’s wholesale personel changes continues to rumble on.


Leader Sport understands that a number of the panel are considering their future with the county team and inevitably the subject of a player’s strike could be broached.
This latest development comes on the back of the withdrawal of former captain Damien Reale in protest over the wholesale changes to the panel.
James Ryan is said to be the latest player to consider his options.
Ryan, a full-time Limerick GAA coach, is understood to be considering opting to play inter-county football in 2010, rather than hurling.
Ryan did play in last Friday night’s trial game, but this weekend will travel to London as a sub on the Munster team for the inter-provincial football final - 2009 was Ryan’s first full season on the inter-county hurling panel after two years with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s footballers.
Gone from the panel which faced Tipperary in last August’s All-Ireland semi-final are: Stephen Lucey, Mark Foley, Mark O’Riordan, Niall Moran, Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Donie Ryan, Mike O’Brien, Damien Cosgrave, Donnacha Sheehan, Eoin Fole (all dropped), Philip O’Loughlin (emigrated), Dave Bulfin (personal reasons), Ollie Moran (retired) and Damien Reale (withdrawn).
Those that remain panel are: Brian Geary, Donal O’Grady, Brian Murray, Tom Condon, Seamus Hickey, Denis Moloney, Stephen Walsh, Gavin O’Mahony, Paul Browne, Bryan O’Sullivan, James Ryan, James O’Brien, David Breen, Wayne McNamara, Paudie McNamara, Dave Moloney and Graeme Mulcahy.
Speaking to The Irish Examiner this week Damien Reale said he raised the issue of the dropped players at a team meeting: “‘Justin,’ I said: ‘Why didn’t the lads who were being cut get even a phone call to explain what was happening? I think it was very unfair what happened to them.
“And he said to me - ‘Damien, did you ever hear the phrase you’re not your brother’s keeper?’
“Well, if I’m not, I thought, then I’m no good to any team, nor to any management. I’ve led these fellas around the field, captained them, and I’m proud to have done that.
“They were my teammates and it was wrong to see them treated like this, it was wrong to see that old complaint about fellas acting the maggot brought up again.
“I can categorically state, everyone did everything that was asked of them this year.
“The question I asked myself was could I give 100 per cent to a management team that had treated people like this?
“After nine years with Limerick this is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I’m still only 28 and I’m so proud to have worn that jersey, but I feel I have to stand up for what I felt was right.”

Lack of communication
At the heart of this latest drama to surround Limerick hurling is a lack of communication which has forced Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan to issue an apology to the omitted hurlers: “On behalf of the County Board I apologise if the players were offended in any way,” said Lenihan.
“If we caused any hurt to any player I would say sorry.”
The chairman said that the hurling management did not communicate with the omitted players as a series of trials are to take place for fringe players and those omitted could yet to included in the final panel.
When the Limerick hurling management reassembled the 2009 panel last Wednesday night (October 28) last for a team meeting in the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel it became apparent that up to 12 players were missing.
The same players were also absent when a trial game took place on Friday night (October 30) in the grounds of Staker Wallace.
Those present at the meeting had received a text message to attend, but others got no communication from management and assumed they had been dropped.
On Friday morning (October 30) their suspicions were confirmed when Justin McCarthy was quoted in The Irish Examiner newspaper.
“I am sure that many teams will be making changes and we are no different in Limerick. The time has come to bring in some new blood and give them a go at inter-county level.
“The mind-set to survive at this level has to be right and we have to change that,” said Justin McCarthy.

Trial game
Just 25 players were togged out last Friday night in the first of the planned trial games.
Twelve of the players were members of the 2009 squad - Brian Murray, Tom Condon, Seamus Hickey, Denis Moloney, Stephen Walsh, Gavin O’Mahony, Paul Browne, Bryan O’Sullivan, James Ryan, James O’Brien, Paudie McNamara and Graeme Mulcahy.
Among those on the team of newcomers were: Barry Hennessy (Kilmallock), Aaron Murphy (Hospital-Herbertstown), Jason Hayes (Bruff), James Mann (Patrickswell), Andrew Brennan (Caherline), Steve Cahill (Croom), Dean Madden (Bruff), Tommy O’Brien (Patrickswell), Anthony Owens (South LIberties), Alan O’Connor (Ballybrown) and Richie McKeogh (Kildimo).
At least another two trials are planned for the coming weeks, but no players from the 2009 squad will be allowed to attend due to the GAA’s ‘closed season’.

Best Wishes
The latest saga surrounding Limerick hurling pales into insignificance with the sad news that one of the fans favourites, Andrew O’Shaughnessy, has been diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).
The heart-breaking news comes just weeks before his 25th birthday.
As a teenager the Kilmallock corner-forward made his first Limerick senior championship appearance as a substitute in the All-Ireland qualifier loss to Cork in Thurles in 2002.
In 33 championship appearances in the green of the county O’Shaughnessy has already amassed 8-102, putting him just behind Gary Kirby, Mick Mackey, Eamonn Cregan and Richie Bennis in Limerick’s scoring charts.
Leader Sport extends the best wishes of all GAA fans to ‘Shaughs’.

Jerome O’Connell