Monday, June 28, 2010

Limerick to face Offaly

JUSTIN McCarthy’s Limerick senior hurlers were this Monday morning drawn to face Offaly in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
Limerick will have to travel to Tullamore for the tie which is likely to take place on Saturday, July 10.

McCarthy and his management team will be looking to lift morale after last week’s 13-point loss to Cork.
Offaly found themselves in the qualifiers after Saturday’s replay defeat to Galway. Joe Dooley’s men surprised many when almost shocking Galway in the Leinster semi-final two weeks ago in Croke Park.
Elsewhere in the draw it will be a meeting of former Clare team-mates when Anthony Daly’s Dublin host Ger O’Loughlin’s Clare.
If Limerick progress past Offaly they could line-up a clash with the winner from Tipperary and Wexford or the winner from the Carlow and Antrim qualifier games.
Limerick’s Saturday, July 10 clash in the midlands will be the first championship meeting of the sides since July 12, 2008 in the Gaelic Grounds.
The Faithful County were ten-point winners on that most disappointing occasion which ended the term of Richie Bennis as Limerick manager.
Offaly’s Joe Bergin hit a hat-trick of goals as they were 3-19 to 0-18 winners on an evening that saw Limerick booed from the field by the home support.
This season they sides met in the National Hurling League.
The round five tie took place in O’Connor Park in Tullamore and in what was Limerick’s best performance of the campaign, Offaly emerged 2-17 to 3-13 winners. Richie McKeogh scored two goals in that defeat and is among those carrying injuries and in danger of missing the qualifier. Limerick will also be planning without Paudie McNamara. The wing-forward and free-taker departs for Australia this week.
Also on the doubtful list are Sean O’Riordan (hamstring), Richie McKeogh (ankle), Andrew Brennan (foot) and Na Pairsaigh’s David Lynch who failed to line out for his club in their weekend defeat to Patrickswell.
Elsewhere in the Limerick club championships Kilmallock beat Doon and Bruff defeated Claughaun.
After the weekend’s action the countdown now begins in earnest to next Sunday’s Munster senior football championship final between Limerick and Kerry. As Limerick bid to end a wait stretching back to 1896 the Munster Council have confirmed that the final in Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney will have a 2pm start. The curtin-raiser will be the minor final between Cork and Kerry, which has a 11.45am start.
Ahead of the Munster final Limerick manager Mickey Ned O’Sullivan is hoping that his side can go one better than last season when they almost defeated Cork in the provincial decider.
“Last year it was a big occasion to be in the final, but this year it’s an opportunity. There’s a difference. It’s an opportunity to perform. The same hype isn’t there. The lads are more mature, a year down the line and they’re better equipped than last year,” said Mickey Ned O’Sullivan.
“The last two years we were aspiring for respect, but respect doesn’t boil the pot. At this stage we have to go a step further. You don’t get things in football because you deserve them, you get them because you take them. So, I think the lads are ready to take the next step now,” said the Kerry man.
“It’s good for Limerick football to be exposed to the Munster final again because there will be a lot of young Limerick lads watching it and they’ll be aspiring to play in the future so it’s good. It sows the seeds of future success,” O’Sullivan said.
“These lads are as professional a group of players as I’ve come across.
“They’re focused, they believe in themselves and they know that luck or anybody else isn’t going to win it for them. They’ve got to go out and do it for themselves. They know they’ve got to perform.”
Tickets for the final are available to purchase from the Gaelic Grounds from 9.30am to 5pm. Tickets for the stand cost €35, sideline €30, terrace €20, juvenile (family) €5 and juvenile (terrace) €3.
In a new initiative, tickets are also available to purchase from the Munster Ticket Van.
Today the van will visit a number of Centra and SuperValu stores throughout Limerick - Reidy’s Centra, Foynes (12 noon to 1pm), Dooly’s SuperValu, Newcastle West (2.30pm to 3pm), Garvey’s SuperValu, Newcastle West (3.15pm to 3.45pm), Ballylanders (4.30pm to 5.30pm) and The Crossroads, Pallasgreen (6-7pm).


Cregan makes hockey history

Eimear Cregan has succeeded Rachael Kohler to become the most capped Irish international hockey player of all time.
Prior to last weekend’s Four Nations tournament in Germany the 28-year-old Castletroy woman needed just one more international appearance to equal Kohler’s record of 166 caps.
Eimear Cregan did so on Friday when Ireland lost 0-4 to Australia in Essen, Germany. Ireland took on the host nation, Germany, on Saturday, but lost 1-3 to the world number four ranked side.
On Sunday afternoon Eimear Cregan played for Ireland against India and won her 167th cap making the Limerick woman the most-capped Irish hockey player of all time - Ireland lost 0-6 to India.
Cregan, who is a niece of Limerick’s 1973 All-Ireland hurling winner Eamonn Cregan, made her international senior debut at the age of 19 in 2001 against Wales.
The Catholic Institute club player had amassed 50 caps by 2004 and reached the landmark 100 caps in 2007.
In the spring of 2008 Cregan was elevated to the role of Irish captain after the retirement of Linda Caulfield.
Among the highlights from her career thus far were a hat-trick against Korea in 2005 and an outstanding performance at the 2002 World Cup.
Meanwhile the make-up of an all-new Ireland under-17 girls team - which will compete at the World Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August - was confirmed over the weekend.
The Ireland under-16 and under-18 coaches, Una McCarthy and Richie Malone respectively, will assist Irish hockey’s high performance director David Passmore in the management of the side.
Catholic Institute duo Rebecca Barry and Roisin Upton and Cork Harlequins’ star Antonia McGrath will fly the flag for Munster.


Munster begin preparations for new season

IRELAND might have had completed their international season just 48 hours ago, but several members of the Munster rugby squad have begun their preparations for 2010-11.
The Munster players not involved in Irish and under-20s squads assembled in Limerick earlier today to under-go fitness tests. The players are due to train in their respective centres during the week as they finish with a full squad session in Cork this Friday.
The next four weeks will see the players take part in intensive strength and conditioning sessions under the watchful eye of Paul Darbyshire and his strength and conditioning department.
Returning South African prop Wian Du Preez was due to re-join the squad today while newly-arrived New Zealand centre Sam Tuitupou was set to meet his Munster colleagues for the first time.
The senior Irish internationals - who have just returned home from their end-of-season tour to New Zealand and Australia - are due to return to action in four weeks’ time on Monday, July 26. The squad will then head for the La Manga Club in Spain on Tuesda, August 10 for a week-long pre-season training camp.
On their return Munster have organised two high-profile pre-season friendlies against top-ranking Guinness Premiership opposition.
Munster will take on the Leicester Tigers on August 20 and Gloucester seven days later at Musgrave Park.
Tickets are now available for both pre-season fixtures - both games kick-off at 7pm.
Tickets are priced at €25 for the West Stand, €20 for uncovered seating and €15 for adult terrace tickets.
Junior (under-16) Terrace tickets can be bought for €5 while a Family Pack Terrace (two adults and two juniors) is also available for purchase at just €35.
Match tickets can be bought from the Munster Rugby website, from the Ticketmaster hotline on 0818 719 300 or from the ticket office at Thomond Park.
Meanwhile the Irish international side suffered a 22-15 defeat to Australia in the final game of their summer tour at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. The game saw Munster hooker Damien Varley earn his first full international cap when introduced as a second half replacement for Sean Cronin.
Irish team captain Brian O’Driscoll said many of the Irish players were ‘on a learning curve’ during the course of their three-match tour to New Zealand and Australia.
“We had a number of players earning their first caps and it was all good experience - they will take a lot out of it,” Brian O’Driscoll said.
“We haven’t managed any victories on this tour and of course that is what you are judged on.
“We wanted to put a bit of pride back into our defensive game as we let ourselves down against New Zealand.
“Although we had a couple of lapses against Australia, we were fairly solid,” he said.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Adare primed for the visit of the golfing world’s elite

SEVERAL of the world’s top golfers, including Tiger Woods, will travel through the night from the AT&T National Championships in the USA in order to make their opening day tee times at the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am hosted by the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort.

World number one Tiger Woods is set to defend his AT&T National title at Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia over the four days leading up to the JP McManus Pro-Am which takes place on July 5-6.
With that $6.2 million AT&T National tournament set to finish up late on Sunday night (July 4) Irish time, the US golfers face a quick dash to the airport and an overnight flight across the Atlantic in order to make their tee times in Adare.
Thirty-five-year-old Tiger Woods will spend just two days in Ireland before returning back home following his second round in the Pro-Am.
Other top US professionals who are set to compete in both Philadelphia and Adare include Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Jerry Kelly and Rickie Fowler.
Thirteen of the World’s current top-16 ranked players have confirmed they will play in next month’s JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am.
They include new US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Robert Allenby, Pádraig Harrington (2005 champion) and Camilo Villegas.
Speaking at the launch of a mobile phone app for the up-coming JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am at Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort this Tuesday afternoon JP McManus revealed that attracting the players to participate in the 36-hole event had not proved difficult.
“I am very much looking forward to the event. So far so good, we are on track. We are getting a lot of support from everybody and that is very encouraging,” JP McManus said.
“We have more people volunteering to work this year. It seemed to be easier to get the players. It was an easier sell in a lot of ways.
“I have had a relationship with a lot of the players for quite a long time now. With a lot in the early days I probably worked on the wives and tried to encourage the wives to come. The wives got the husbands to come. If the wives had a good time they would tell the other wives and then they all want to come.
“We have more applications that we can cater for. We try to have a strong a field as we can. We have a good bunch of guys. They want to help. They see what we are doing.
“There are no deductions from what is collected. I think that is encouraging for a lot of people. They feel they are playing a part in something good and positive.”
JP McManus also revealed that the Pro-Am would be the first event that the newly-crowned US Open champion Graeme McDowell would play in following his dramatic success at Pebble Beach on Sunday last.
“The Pro-Am will be the first tournament Graeme McDowell is going to play in since winning the US Open.
“We are excited about that,” JP McManus enthused.
“But you look at the leader board in Pebble Beach at the US Open, you had the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson who were in contention and they are coming over to play in Adare.”
The two-day entrance cap for the 36-hole JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am can be purchased by choosing from eight different coloured caps representing Ireland, Munster Rugby and each of the six Munster counties.
At a cost of €50 each entrance caps can be purchased from the website on until Tuesday, June 29 next or at selected retail outlets.
JP McManus said: “The encouraging part is that the numbers of entrance caps sold continues to increase day by day. We have less than 3,500 left to sell. You would be surprised how quickly they tend to go. The cut-off point to buy them on-line from the website is Tuesday next.
“The price is €50 for two days. We put it at a price we thought would be affordable. You have ten hours entertainment and your money goes in its entirety to the charity.”
Thirteen of the world’s current top-16 ranked players have confirmed they will play in next month’s event.
Joining the man-of-the-moment Graeme McDowell in the star-studded line-up will be world number one Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Robert Allenby, Pádraig Harrington (2005 JP McManus Pro-Am winner) and Camilo Villegas. These players will be joined by a list of celebrities including film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Douglas, Hugh Grant, Kyle MacLachlan and pop stars Westlife.
More than 8,200 club golfers tried their hand at qualifying to play alongside one of the world’s top golfers in the team event at the JP McManus Pro-Am.
Eight teams qualified to play in the two-day Pro-Am from the 91 which participated in the recent Grand Qualifier held at Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort.
The mobile phone app launched jointly by JP McManus and Munster and Ireland rugby star Paul O’Connell on Tuesday will allow users to download the JP McManus Pro Am website live onto their phone.
There they will receive the most up to date information on players and celebrities attending the Pro-Am as well as live scores at the event.
The mobile phone ap can be accessed from Samsung, iphones and Android handsets.
Members of the public can purchase Pro-Am entrance caps at Gleeson Sports, William St, Limerick; Limerick Sports Store, William St, Limerick; Anthony Daly Sports, Ennis; Hennebry Sports, Tralee; Limerick Golf Club, Ballyclough; Ela Maria, Newcastle west; Adare Hotel & Golf Resort, Adare and Cummins Sport, Cork.

Colm Kinsella

Hegarty pleads for support ahead of semi-final clash with Clare

THE minor hurlers take on Clare this Friday at the Gaelic Grounds in an eagerly-anticipated Munster semi-final (throw-in 7.30pm) and manager Ger Hegarty has pleaded with the Limerick hurling fraternity to come out in support of his side.
“I would urge every hurling man and woman to come down to the Gaelic Grounds on Friday night to support us,” insisted an enthusiastic Ger Hegarty this week.
“We have prepared tremendously well for this game and I have no doubt that so have Clare.
“Clare will be buoyed by their results against Kerry and Tipperary. So, at the very least, people will get a good game. We know this will be a massive challenge for us. And we know that Limerick hurling has gone through a traumatic few months.
“These boys though are the senior players of the future and they need a good show of support. That might give them that bit extra, that X factor, that 16th man. The lads’ goal is to make it to the Munster final and if they could do it, if they could get there, it really would mean the world to them.”
Although Limerick struggled to overcome Kerry (2-13 to 1-13) in their quarter-final the Shannonsiders will be expected to improve significantly for Friday night’s clash with their near-neighbours. For their part Clare, although they lost to Waterford 0-16 to 1-21 in their respective quarter-final, pulled off the shock of the year thus far when beating Tipperary 0-17 to 1-13 in a play-off.
Cork and Waterford will battle it out in the other semi-final which is scheduled to take place this Saturday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The Munster final is fixed for Sunday, July 11 as a curtain-raiser to the Munster senior hurling final between Waterford and Cork.
Ger Hegarty is joined by Mungret’s Brian Begley, Paul Finn (Bruff) and George Lee (Ahane) on the Limerick minor management team.
Many of the Clare team will be familiar to Limerick supporters and none more so than Sixmilebridge’s Jamie Shanahan and Parteen’s Martin Moroney - both players contributed significantly to Árdscoil Rís’ magnificent recent Dr. Harty Cup-winning campaign.
Dr. Harty Cup champions Árdscoil Rís provide eight of the 30-man Limerick minor hurling panel - Alan Dempsey, Shane Dowling, Ciaran Keogh, Mark Ryan, Declan Hannon, John Fitzgibbon, Brendan O’Connor and Mark Carmody.
The Leaving Certificate has complicated Limerick’s preparation for Friday night’s semi-final, but manager Ger Hegarty is happy that the players are fully prepared.
“Look, the Leaving Certificate has to come before hurling, we know that, but at the same time the lads have been hugely committed to what we’re trying to do,” manager Ger Hegarty explained.
“We’re really happy with the response we’ve got from the players and even though nine of the panel were doing their exams I don’t expect it to set us back too far. It’s the same for Clare. Exams come first for these lads and that’s the end of it.
“We know that we have it all to do really. We know how good a team Clare are. They have already taken out Kerry and Tipperary. We struggled against Kerry, so you would have to really respect this Clare team.
“In saying that we will be going out to give it our best. We know that hurling in Limerick is pretty low right now and that everyone really needs a boost. We’re happy with how training has gone and with how the players have developed. We’re delighted with home advantage and, hopefully, if we can get good support on the night we can give people something to shout about.”

Munster football final
Tickets for the Munster football final when Limerick take on Kerry on Sunday, July 4 in Killarney are available to purchase from the Gaelic Grounds.
Tickets for the stand cost €35, sideline €30, terrace €20, juvenile (family) €5 and juvenile (terrace) €3. You can purchase your tickets for this potentially historic occasion from the Gaelic Grounds on week days from 9.30am to 5pm.

Limerick minor team to face Clare on Friday night: Owen Webb-O’Rourke (Kilmallock), Brian Murphy (Fedamore), Alan Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh), Brian Hannigan (Feenagh-Kilmeedy), Mark Carmody (Patrickswell), Kevin O’Donnell (Kilmallock, captain), Chris O’Riordan (Dromin-Athlacca), Declan Hannon (Adare), Sean Kelly (Adare), Mike Fitzgibbon (Feohanagh-Castlemahon), Thomas Ryan (South Liberties), Dan Morrissey (Ahane), John Fitzgibbon (Adare), Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh), Michael Ryan (Murroe-Boher). Subs: Barry Neville (Ahane), Richard Ryan (Ahane), Brendan O’Connor (Croagh-Kilfinny), Mark O’Loughlin (Kilmallock), Ciarán Keogh (Na Piarsaigh), Jake Mulcahy (Kilmallock), Mark O’Connell (Glenroe), Jack Aherne (Kileedy), David Murphy (Kilteely-Dromkeen). Extended members of the panel: Stephen Foley (Croagh-Kilfinny), Patrick Carroll (South Liberties), Mark Ryan (Na Piarsaigh), William Hickey (South Liberties), Chris Buckley (Mungret), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca), Liam Ryan (Doon) and Conor Sheehan (Cappamore).

Brian McDonnell

McCarthy: ‘People must be positive’

‘NO pain, no gain’ was the mantra adopted by Justin McCarthy this week in the aftermath of Limerick’s 13-point defeat to Cork in Sunday’s the Munster championship semi-final.
The embattled Limerick manager opted not to speak to the media in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in the immediate aftermath of his side’s loss to Cork, but Justin McCarthy did take time out to speak to Leader Sport this week.

“As an outsider looking in I can see what is required and I am not just saying this to stay on board,” stressed Justin McCarthy.
“You can’t do it over night, but people must be positive.
“People must face up to the idea that new talent has to be unearthed.
“You can blame the manager or the County Board all the time, but there is too much blame and not enough positivity,” said McCarthy in defence of his inexperienced side.
“Come in behind the talent that is there,” he asked.
“People have to do it together and not be split because of personalties.
“Limerick has to start some place - you could wait five years down the road and then say why didn’t we start with new players. There is an amount of talent and there is great harmony in the panel,” he said.
“You have to start somewhere to bring everyone forward. We are giving lads a chance to perform at inter-county level - a very honest bunch.
“I see a great quality of player coming though. I am coaching for 40 years since I started out with Antrim and I know what’s required.
“I saw that Cork intermediate team beat Tipperary and I thought they were very good and Limerick were so unlucky not to beat them. Look at that intermediate team. They have young talent and I can see the work that was put into them,” McCarthy said.

An under-performance
McCarthy’s senior team were beaten 2-19 to 0-12, but the Cork native feels that his side under-performed.
“I still thought we didn’t play as well as we could have, honestly. I was disappointed because I know we can do better. I felt we were closer than the scoreline suggests,” he explained.
“No real Cork player dominated us to the extent that people thought.
“There were some encouraging displays. The full-back line was outstanding and Kieran O’Rourke was my Man of the Match. They are all unheralded players and they hurled with huge distinction.”
It appeared like Cork didn’t raise their game to the level of their quarter-final win over Tipperary.
“A good team with their experience won’t panic. Look, Cork seldom get beaten in Pairc Ui Chaoimh,” said Justin McCarthy.
“The penalty settled them and then we had the man sent off and we missed a few frees and the penalty. They had to wait until the final minutes before they got a goal from play.”

The day for big crowds is gone
It also appeared that the Limerick public stayed away from the provincial semi-final due to the apathy that has surrounded Limerick hurling since last October.
“The day for big crowds is gone - especially with the economy the way it is. People are watching finances and maybe some were gone to the seaside with the fine weather and, of course, it was on television,” explained the Limerick manager.

Qualifier draw
McCarthy and Limerick now wait for next weekend’s qualifier draw where they will be drawn to play either Dublin or the losing side from the Galway and Offaly replay.
That game will take place on Saturday, July 10.
Although Limerick battled gamely on Sunday, they are still without a competitive win this season.
A confidence boosting victory is now the target for McCarthy and selectors Brian Ryan, Liam Garvey and John Tuohy.
“It is the objective. There is no team standing still waiting to be beaten.
“Look at Dublin yesterday. They were beaten by 19 points by Kilkenny and they were only beaten six points last year and Dublin are a good team. The gap is widening,” said McCarthy.
“The next game is very important. It would be a great boost to win.”
Limerick will be planning without Paudie McNamara.
The wing-forward and free-taker departs for Australia next week.
On the doubtful list are Shaun O’Riordan (hamstring), Richie McKeogh (ankle), Andrew Brennan (foot) and Na Piarsaigh duo David Lynch and James O’Brien, who were injured for the Cork game.

Jerome O’Connell

Monday, June 21, 2010

Limerick GAA chairman lashes out at hurling fans

LIMERICK GAA chairman Liam Lenihan has hit out at the Limerick hurling fans who stayed away from yesterday’s Munster championship semi-final in Cork.

Just 13,638 turned up in Pairc Ui Chaoimh for the provincial semi-final compared to almost 31,500 who witnessed the last encounter between the Munster rivals in 2004.
Eight months of internal striff and apathy towards Limerick hurling can be held responsible for the small travelling support on a sun-drenched afternoon which would normally bolster the championship attendances.
One supporter, who did travel, unfurled a banner displaying the following message: “County Board, can time travel set us back 10 years - sort it out. Limerick boys”.
“I was very disappointed that so few Limerick people showed up here this afternoon,” said Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan in the wake of a 13-point defeat to Cork.
“The real supporters showed up,” the chairman added.
“This team are young fellas and they deserve the support of the public. We have gone through our ups and downs in Limerick, but look I am disapointed that there wasn’t more Limerick people here,” he told Leader Sport.
“To those who came I say well done and thanks and to the others we have a chance in the qualifiers so come along and maybe we will be lucky enough to get a home draw.”
That qualifier game will take place on July 11 and Limerick will have to wait until next weekend to find out who will provide the opposition from either Galway or Offaly or Dublin.
Despite yesterday’s expected defeat the Limerick GAA chairman said that he was proud of the display from the new-look Limerick side under the guidance of the embattled manager Justin McCarthy.
“What we looked for was a performance and in fairness to the players they brought everything from the training field and left it here in Pairc Ui Chaoimh today, probably against the second best team in the country,” said Liam Lenihan, a former Limerick hurling selector.
“After the Dublin game (31-point National Hurling League defeat) they sat down and every player made a contribution and they made a vow that they wouldn’t let the side down and in fairness to them they have worked extremely hard, their behaviour has been exemplary and I knew coming up here today that they would give it their best shot and that wasn’t good enough to beat Cork but they competed.”
Limerick trailed 1-10 to 0-6 at half time, but had to face into the second half with just 14-men after wing-forward Sean Herlihy was shown a red card in first half injury time.
“It was a good team performance with some outstanding individual performances. Kieran O’Rourke at corner-back, David Breen, Thomas O’Brien in the middle of the field and Graeme Mulcahy - everyone of them put their bodies on the line and we can’t ask for any more,” said the chairman.
“Whatevery way you look at it, the vast majority of the players on that team, they are the players for Limerick going forward. They are very young, eight or nine of them are under-21. We looked for honesty from the players and to give 100 per cent. They trained hard, they worked hard. They were a bit nervous early on, but they settled down.”
Cork impressed when beating Tipperary in the Munster quarter-finals, but never reached those heights against Limerick.
“As Denis Walsh (Cork manager) said inside in the dressing room Cork prepared for this game the very same as they did for the Tipp game,” said Liam Lenihan.
Limerick manager Justin McCarthy and the members of his management team opted not to give interviews to the media in the aftermath of the defeat, but the chairman did address their future.
“Justin McCarthy came in and the deal I shuck hands with him on was two years and then a review after that and that’s what will happen,” he exlained.
The review he said would take place “whenever the championship ends in 2010”.


Flannery could still figure against Australia

HOOKER Jerry Flannery’s chances of being fit for Ireland’s glamour end of season Test match with Australia in Brisbane on Saturday are rated as 50/50.
The Irish management team may delay making a final call on the availability of Flannery for the Suncorp Stadium clash when the team is announced in the early hours of tomorrow morning Irish time.
Munster hooker Flannery arrived late to the tour after suffering a calf muscle injury in Ireland’s defeat to the Barbarians at Thomond Park at the start of the month.
Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal said: “It’s all going well (with Jerry Flannery’s recovery). Over the next two days we will see how he progresses and there’s an option to use him.
“We’ll decide Tuesday or Wednesday”.
Munster’s Mick O’Driscoll is also expected to be available for selection after suffering a back spasm in the heavy defeat to New Zealand last Saturday week.
Saturday’s Test match - when Ireland bid to claim a first victory Down Under for 31 years - has an 11am kick-off Irish time.
Wallabies winger Digby Ioane is set to miss Saturday morning’s clash after suffering a shoulder injury during the course of his side’s defeat to England. Ioane will be sidelined for up to four months.
And in another blow to the Aussies ahead of the weekend clash with Ireland scrum-half Will Genia is facing up to four weeks on the sideline after suffering a broken hand against Martin Johnson’s men.
Meanwhile the Irish under-20s can secure a ninth place finish at the IRB Junior World Championships with victory over Scotland in Argentina later today (4pm irish time).
Shannon’s Patrick Butler has again been chosen at number eight for the Irish side while Brian O’Hara, of UL-Bohemian, starts at openside flanker.
The exciting Mike Kelliher, of Richmond, is named among the replacements having received a late call up to Allen Clarke’s Irish squad.
Fresh from their first win of the tournament against Samoa the Ireland under-20 side will look to beat their Scottish counterparts for the second time in three months and finish the championship on a high.
Allen Clarke’s youngsters overcame Scotland 44-15 to lift the RBS Under-20 6 Nations trophy in Athlone last March and a victory on Monday afternoon would see them finish ninth overall at the Argentinian event.

Ireland Under-20 v Scotland: Andrew Conway (Blackrock College); Andrew Boyle (UCD), Eoin Griffin (Corinthians), Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution); Noel Reid (UCD), John Cooney (UCD); Bryan Cagney (UCC), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins) (capt), Martin Moore (Lansdowne); David O’Callaghan (UCC), Brian Hayes (Cork Constitution); Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne), Brian O’Hara (UL Bohemian), Paddy Butler (Shannon).
Replacements: David Doyle (UCD), Denis Buckley (Corinthians), Jordi Murphy (Blackrock College), Robin O’Sullivan (Bective Rangers), Michael Heaney (Belfast Harlequins), James McKinney (Queen’s University), Mike Kelliher (Richmond).


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Limerick team will be finalised on Thursday

JUSTIN McCarthy is expected to hand out ten full debuts when he finalises his new-look Limerick senior hurling team on Thursday night - Limerick will travel to Pairic Ui Chaoimh on Sunday (4pm) with their most inexperienced championship team ever.
Indeed, just James O’Brien, David Breen, Paul Browne and Tadhg Flynn have previously started a Munster senior hurling championship game.

Goalkeeper Flynn is the only one to have played against Cork in the Munster SHC - in 2004 he won many plaudits for his display when Cork were 4-19 to 1-7 winners over his native Kerry.
After a winter of discontent on Shannonside, Justin McCarthy brings his vastly changed team to face his native county.
After the humbling 24-point defeat to Tipperary in last season’s All-Ireland semi-final, all knew that changes would be needed as McCarthy embarked on the second of his two years in charge.
However, after months of boardroom wranglings, panel changes and player withdrawals, Limerick arrive in Pairc Ui Chaoimh with just six players from the panel that played in the county’s last championship game last August - Bryan O’Sullivan, Graeme Mulcahy, Paudie McNamara, David Breen, Paul Browne and James O’Brien.
Moulding such an inexperienced group of players into a championship unit was always going to be a daunting task for McCarthy and his selectors.
Numerous attempts were made for reconciliation, but 12 players initially wanted by the management remained outside of the fold.
Household names like Brian Geary, Seamus Hickey, Gavin O’Mahony, Damien Reale and Donal O’Grady were among this list and their absence would be a blow to any inter-county side.
Relegation was Limerick’s lot in the National Hurling League campaign which didn’t inspire confidence as attendances at games dropped and a general air of apathy engulfed Limerick GAA.
There is no doubt that Limerick face an uphill battle on Sunday, in a game that will be televised live on TV3. Cork may not display the same intensity that they did against Tipperary in round one, but regardless Limerick can not match their vast experience, their fitness or physical stature.
Limerick players and management did hurt after the 31-point low to Dublin in the final round of the NHL. Lessons will have to be learned from that contest.
Cork will, as always, have their half-back line as their launch pad and Limerick will need a massive work rate in an effort to unsettle the impressive unit of Gardiner, Curran and O’hAilpin.
In attack, Cork can score from distance and in the inside line they have Aisake O’hAilpin. The display of the towering full-forward against Tipperary prompted a rethink from the Limerick management. All indications now are that David Breen will be handed the number three jersey in a switch from the attacking role he filled last season. The Na Piarsaigh man will follow in the footsteps of his brother Kieran, who played full-back against Clare in the All-Ireland Qualifiers in 2006.
Either side of Breen it is expected that Shane O’Neill (South Liberties) and Kieran O’Rourke (Bruree) will complete the final line of defence in front of goalkeeper Tadhg Flynn (Ahane).
Team captain Bryan O’Sullivan (Kilmallock) and Paul Browne (Bruff) could also make the switch from attack to defence.
O’Sullivan has played centre-back in recent challenge games and his wing-backs could be Browne with Lorcan O’Dwyer (Pallasgreen) or Sean O’Riordan.
If O’Riordan gets the nod it will bring him into direct opposition with his Newtown-Shandrum club-mates Ben & Jerry O’Connor and Cathal Naughton.
Midfield is likely to include Andrew Brennan (Caherline) and Thomas O’Brien (Patrickswell), with O’Dwyer, O’Riordan and Nicky Quaid (Effin) also in the reckoning. In attack Paudie McNamara (Murroe-Boher) and James O’Brien (Bruree) will take their place in the half-forward line, where other options are Sean Herlihy (Monagea) and Cathal Mullane (Killeedy).
Anthony Owens (South Liberties) should be full forward with lively duo Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) and Richie McKeogh (Kildimo) in the two corners.

Intermediate hurling
Meanwhile John Kiely’s intermediate team was selected after training this Tuesday night.
Three players from the extended senior panel have been made available - Mike Noonan and Liam Costello from Adare and Tommy O’Brien from Bruree.
Limerick: Aaron Murphy (Hospital-Herbertstown), Mike Keane (Staker Wallace), Edward Kiely (Doon), Conor Noonan (Feohangh); Dinny Ahern (Kilteely-Dromkeen), Richie McCarthy, capt (Blackrock), John Riordan (Templeglantine); John Dillon (Effin), Don Hanley (Knockaderry); Gary Murphy (Caherline), Mike Noonan (Adare), Tommy Quaid (Effin); Peter Harty (Patrickswell), Tommy O’Brien (Bruree), Liam Costello (Adare).
Subs: Shane O’Donoghue (Adare), Conor Kearney (Effin), Paudie Leahy (Staker Wallace), Damien Moloney (Effin), Thomas Crawford (Glenroe), Willie Griffin (Adare), Damien Quaid (St Marys Sean Finns), Aidan McAuliffe (Castletown-Ballyagran), Dermot McCarthy (Staker Wallace), Anthony Harnett (Tournafulla), Shane Bulfin (Bruff), Mikey Kiely (Ballybrown).

Jerome O’Connell

Cregan poised to make hockey history

LIMERICK’S Eimear Cregan is poised to become Ireland’s most-capped women’s hockey player. The 28-year-old Castletroy woman has been selected in the international squad for two tournaments, later this month, by Irish team coach Gene Muller.
Cregan is currently captain of the Irish senior women’s hockey side and all going according to plan she will create her own piece of history in a four nations invitational tournament which is set to take place in Germany from June 25-27.
The Limerick woman currently has played 165 times for Ireland and is just one appearance shy of Rachael Kohler, who retired in 2003 after winning 166 caps.
Cregan, who is a niece of Limerick’s 1973 All-Ireland hurling winner Eamonn Cregan, made her international senior debut at the age of 19 in 2001 against Wales.
The Catholic Institute club player had amassed 50 caps by 2004 and reached the landmark 100 caps in 2007.
In the spring of 2008 Cregan was elevated to the role of Irish captain after the retirement of Linda Caulfield.
Cregan and her Irish colleagues have a busy few weeks ahead of them as the level of matches and training revs up for the summer months.
The Germany tournament will give Ireland a great opportunity to compete against some of the top sides in the world, Australia, India and hosts Germany.
Just three days later, starting on June 30, Ireland will take on Australia in a triple header at UCD, Dublin.
“We are delighted to have secured these fixtures and our players are excited at the prospect of competing against this calibre of opposition.
“Australia and Germany are traditional powerhouses in women’s hockey and will be a stern test for us. India are the Commonwealth games hosts and are gearing up for the World Cup later this year,” said Irish coach Gene Muller of the forthcoming fixtures.
Elsewhere Irish girls hockey has received a major boost with the news that Ireland has secured a place for its under-17 girls hockey squad at the first ever World Youth Olympic Games which are being held in Singapore in August.
The Limerick-based Dave Passmore will coach the Irish side and a number of local teenagers are expected to be in the shake-up for squad places.
“This is the perfect opportunity to develop a group of talented young athletes, many of whom have been through Irish Hockeys talent ID system.
“Whilst the tournament will be a challenging one in difficult climatic conditions it is the best way to test our young stars against the world’s best nations,” explained David Passmore.

Jerome O’Connell

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flannery issues rallying call to his Irish team mates

HOOKER Jerry Flannery has issued a rallying call to his beleaguered Irish team mates on his arrival in New Zealand.
Flannery, who missed Saturday’s 38-point drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks due to a calf muscle injury, has joined up with the Irish squad ahead of Friday morning’s daunting clash with the Maoris at Rotorua (8.35am Irish time).

Munster star Flannery is hoping to be involved in Ireland’s final game of their summer tour, a difficult assignment against Australia on Saturday week in Brisbane.
While Flannery’s involvement in the end-of-seasn tour is beginning, Jamie Heaslip’s is over after the number eight was handed a five-week ban for striking with the knee during the course of Saturday’s 66-28 defeat to the All Blacks.
Heaslip was sent off 15 minutes into yesterday’s 66-28 loss to New Zealand in New Plymouth for twice kneeing All Blacks captain Richie McCaw at a ruck.
Any hopes of an Irish victory in their 23rd test evaporated after Heaslip’s rush of blood.
The game effectively ended as a contest nine minutes later when Irish flyhalf Ronan O’Gara was sin-binned for a late tackle.
The home side scored three converted tries in the ten minutes Ireland were down to 13 men.
Thirty-one-year-old Flannery said it was vital that Declan Kidney’s side hit the training ground hard in Rotorua this week as Ireland bid to bounce back from a demoralising defeat.
“If we turn around and get a really good result against the Maoris and another good result against Australia, then this game won’t have the same effect on morale,” Flannery wrote in his column for the website.
“It’s only if you’re consistently losing that this kind of stuff begins to really effect you, so it will be hard to take if we lose all three games.
“It’s a fine line with things like confidence and morale. It’s your job to be positive each time you go into a game but it does start to wear on you if things aren’t going well, like happened for a while before Deccie took over. Back then, we went from being a long way off the pace results-wise to winning a Grand Slam in a short space of time.
“Small things can make a big difference. That’s why we have to hope that we can take something out of the next two games and then start getting ready for next season.”
Jerry Flannery said he would need to be 100 per cent ready if he is to win his 37th cap in the Test match with the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday, June 26.
Flannery wrote: “I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to play in the Australia game, but it’s very much a case of day by day with me because of the history of the injury.
“I need to get it 100 per cent right because whenever I go out at 90 or 95 per cent, it’s gone on me.
“Out here, the rehab is very intense so I’m getting an awful lot done - two sessions a day.
“The next few days will give me a good indication of how it’s going. Every day it’s getting a bit better.”
Meanwhile Ireland under-20 captain Rhys Ruddock has been called up to join the Ireland touring squad in Rotorua.
Ruddock gets his opportunity following the broken arm suffered by John Muldoon and Heaslip’s suspension.
Munster second row Mick O’Driscoll suffered a back spasm which forced him to leave the field during the first half of the game with the All Blacks. The injury has improved and he will continue to receive treatment over the next 48 hours.
Wing Shane Horgan has also recovered from his stomach complaint that prevented him leaving with the balance of the squad from Ireland and has arrived in Rotorua.


‘I think there is no doubt that we will be back in Limerick’

THE Special Olympics Ireland Games will return to Limerick again.
That was the promise of Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland this Monday morning after the 2010 games was declared the “best yet”.
“It would be a most difficult decision not to return to Limerick,” the CEO told Leader Sport after the hugely successful games came to an end in Limerick.
The 2010 Special Olympics Ireland Games started last Wednesday night when 15,000 attended a spectacular opening ceremony in Thomond Park and came to a close yesterday in UL after 1,900 athletes had competed over four days.
“We like to give the opportunity to other cities to host our games, but Limerick has made it a very difficult decision for us,” he said in praise of the host city.
“I think there is no doubt that we will be back to Limerick again - the last few days made a very strong case for that. I have spoke to so many athletes, their families and their friends and they are all gone back home with very positive memories of Limerick,” said English.
“There were people at the games from all 32 counties - athletes, their families and friends and all of them have memories that they will treasure for the rest of their lives. When we set out on these games we had hoped that they would be fantastic.
“They have been fantastic, they have been amazing and more importantly they have been a celebration of true sporting achievement. I would like to thank the people of Limerick, our sponsors, particularly Eircom, the volunteers and especially the athletes for making these games the extraordinary experience they have been for everyone,” he said.
“My from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all the athletes and everyone involved with Special Olympics Ireland I want to say a big thank you to everyone in Limerick that helped us to host these Games. I know that the family and friends, who travelled to Limerick, were blown away with the facilities and by Limerick.”
He added: “It was an absolutely fantastic Special Olympics Games.
“We felt that it would be from the beginning and that is the way it turned out.
“We are absolutely thrilled with everything. I want to thank everyone for all their help - all the volunteers and those who helped to raise the money needed.”
More than 1,900 athletes representing every county in Ireland took part in the games which included 13 different sports such as athletics, swimming, soccer, basketball, golf and gymnastics.
“The family members who came here had a fantastic time, the athletes were treated like true professionals - which they deserve as they have been training so hard for the last four years and the facilities here have been world-class,” said English.
The CEO was full of praise for UL, which formed the centrepiece of the Games, but stressed that all other venues “went off without a hitch”.
“I don’t like to single out any because they were all brilliant. But just look at Glenside Pitch and Putt out in Murroe. To see the whole community getting involved would really pull at your heart strings,” he said.
The CEO added that it is his wish that the Special Olympics Games would leave a legacy in Limerick.
“We had volunteers from nearly every county in Ireland, but we were delighted with the response from Limerick.
“I met so many of them volunteers and hopefully they will cherish their role and maybe some of them will go on and help with Special Olympics clubs or even help to set up new clubs around Limerick.”


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tiger confirms Adare appearance

WORLD number one Tiger Woods has revealed his excitement at returning to play in next month’s JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort.
Fourteen-time Major winner and former JP McManus Pro-Am winner Woods affirmed his participation in the 2010 running of the event which takes place on Monday, July 5 and Tuesday, July 6.

Woods’ participation in the two-day event means 12 of the world’s top 15 players will be showcasing their talents in Adare.
Thirty-five-year-old Woods said: “I am very happy to be joining this outstanding field.
“Like my own Foundation, I understand the importance and necessity of raising funds to help deserving individuals. This tournament does just that.”
Woods, who has led the official World Golf Rankings for the past 261 weeks and for a total of 603 weeks in his career, confirmed he will join the world class field for the charity tournament which supports charities and groups in the Irish Mid-Western region.
On its last staging in 2005 the tournament raised over €30 million for nominated charities.
Tournament host JP McManus said he believed golf fans attending the Pro-Am would provide a ‘great Irish welcome’ to Woods
“We are delighted Tiger has agreed to include the tournament in his schedule,” JP McManus said.
“Tiger has been a tremendous supporter of our endeavours to raise funds for causes in the region and I am sure everyone will appreciate his participation and give him a great Irish welcome on his return to Adare.
The remaining players ranked in the World’s Top 15 who will tee it up in Adare includes Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Robert Allenby, 2005 champion Pádraig Harrington and Camilo Villegas.
Three of the most exciting talents in golf, JB Holmes, Rickie Fowler and crowd favourite John Daly, were the latest to confirm their intention to play in the World Class field for the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am. These players will be joined by a list of celebrities who are also committed to playing in the tournament including film stars Samuel L Jackson, Michael Douglas, Hugh Grant, Kyle Mac Lachlan, pop stars Westlife, along with sporting greats such as Tony McCoy, Martin O’Neill, Niall Quinn, Paul O’Connell as well as Harry and Jamie Redknapp.
The JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am, which has a prize fund of €1 million, will feature 56 teams of four players competing over two days. Teams comprising of one professional and three amateurs per team.
With just under four weeks to go to the tournament, 24,800 entrance caps have been sold with only 5,200 remaining.
Golf fans are urged to buy their caps as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
The ‘two-day entrance cap’ for the 36-hole tournament can be purchased by choosing from eight different coloured caps representing Ireland, Munster Rugby and each of the six Munster counties.
At a cost of €50 each, caps can be purchased from the website on or at selected retail outlets.
A cap admits one adult for both days of the tournament. Under-16s will enjoy free entry.

Members of the public can purchase Pro-Am entrance caps at Gleeson Sports William St, Limerick; Limerick Sports Store, William St, Limerick; Anthony Daly Sports, Ennis; Hennebry Sports, Tralee; Limerick Golf Club, Ballyclough; Ela Maria, Newcastle west; Adare Hotel & Golf Resort, Adare; Cummins Sport, Cork.

Colm Kinsella

Justin McCarthy’s team takes shape against Wexford

JUSTIN McCarthy has turned his Limerick hurling team inside-out as he attempts to find the winning formula ahead of the Sunday, June 20 Munster senior hurling championship semi-final.
McCarthy and his management team brought their panel to Wexford last weekend as preparations for the trip to Pairc Ui Chaoimh intensified.
On Saturday evening Limerick defeated Wexford in a challenge game to mark the official opening of the facilities at Horeswood GAA club.
The line-up in the 3-21 to 0-21 victory should be a key indicator towards the possible line-up for the provincial championship in two weeks time.
The Wexford win came on the back of wins over both Carlow and Laois while Limerick also had a workout against Leo O’Connor’s county under-21 side.
In Wexford David Breen, Paul Browne and captain Bryan O’Sullivan all lined out in defence.
Limerick experimented with Breen at full-back with thoughts obviously turning to a potential match-up with Cork’s Aisake O’hAilipin.
BRyan O’Sullivan played at centre-back with Paul Browne at wing-back.
Browne and Breen played in the half-forward line in Limerick’s last competitive outing which was the heavy defeat to Dublin in the final round of the National Hurling League.
However, both the Na Pairsaigh and Bruff men have played in defence at underage level for Limerick.
O’Sullivan was midfield in that defeat to Dublin and has played in the half-forward line for his club this season.
Limerick team v Wexford: Tadhg Flynn; Shane O’Neill, David Breen, Kieran O’Rourke; Lorcan O’Dwyer, Bryan O’Sullivan, Paul Browne; Andrew Brennan, Thomas O’Brien; Paudie McNamara, James O’Brien, Sean Herlihy; Graeme Mulcahy, Anthony Owens, Richie McKeogh.
The Limerik v Cork game will have a 4pm start on the banks of the river Lee and will be televised live by TV3.
For the winners Waterford await in the provincial final which will be played in Semple Stadium on July 11. For the losing side, they will be involved in phase two of the All-Ireland qualifiers on July 10, when the four beaten provincial semi-finalists will play each other.

Dr. Harty Cup
Ardscoil Ris have been drawn in one of the groups of three teams for next season’s Dr. Harty Cup campaign.
The first-time champions will begin the defence of their Munster senior A colleges hurling championship in October.
When the draws for the competition were made last weekend, the North Circular Road secondary school were the only Limerick team in the hat.
Ardscoil will face opposition from the Waterford Colleges amalgamation and from St. Colman’s College, Fermoy.
Two of the three teams will progress to the quarter-finals.
Ardscoil defeated St. Colman’s in the past season in the Harty Cup, but when the sides met in the Dean Ryan Cup the north Cork side were winners.
Group A in the Harty Cup comprises four schools: Thurles CBS, DLS Waterford, Blackwater College and St. Flannan’s.
Charleville CBS are in Group B along with Coláiste Chríost Rí, St. Caimin’s of Shannon and Our Lady’s Templemore.
Nenagh CBS, Midleton CBS and Kerry Colleges make up Group C.
The first round of games will commence on Wednesday, October 6.

Jerome O’Connell

Competitive action set to get underway

THE 2010 Special Olympics Ireland Games kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony this Wednesday night in Thomond Park, but all competitive action gets underway this Thursday morning.
The facilities of the University of Limerick will be at the centre of the four days of activity.
Athletics, swimming, soccer, basketball, gymnastics and kayaking will take place in UL while other venues will include the Tailteann Sports Centre in Mary Immaculate College (badminton & table tennis), Adare’s Clonshire Equestrian Centre, Funworld Bowling on Ennis Road, Murroe Pitch and Putt and Limerick Golf Club.
Acton gets underway at 9am on Thurday morning at all venues and will continue until 5pm. However, Thursday is reserved for divisioning - the divisioning process is the fundamental difference that sets Special Olympics apart from all other sports organisations. Every athlete is recognised for their performance - medals are awarded to athletes who are placed first, second and third while athletes who are placed fourth to eighth are awarded with ribbons. The competition proper will run all day Friday and Saturday from 9am-5pm and then from 9am-12noon on Sunday.
In total the Special Olympics Ireland Games will bring approximately 10,000 people to Limerick over the coming days. Just short of 2,000 athletes from all 32 counties will compete in the 13 different sports, with over 500 coaches and an estimated 5,000 family and friends supporting them - 3,500 volunteers will run the games which were last staged in Belfast in 2006. Limerick will be represented by a team of 45 athletes.
“These Games are taking place in Limerick and we want them to be remembered for Limerick. The sports facilities are second to none in Limerick and we have seen already that the hospitality is great. This is an excellent opportunity to show how great Limerick is,” said Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland.
“The launch really set the barometer for how successful the Games are going to be, because at normal launches you get a few celebrities turning up, you get a few sports people, you get a few suits as they say but at the launch there was a thousand people at UCH. It gave us a really good, strong feeling as to the enthusiasm for these Games in Limerick.”
Further info:

Jerome O’Connell

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Cronin starts for Ireland

FLANKER David Wallace has warned of the dangers of players getting caught up in the emotion of trying to become the first Irish side to defeat the All Blacks in 23 attempts when Declan Kidney’s side run out at New Plymouth this Saturday (8.35am Irish time).
Wallace will win his 63rd cap this weekend as Ireland bid to improve on their dismal record of one draw and 21 defeats in their previous meetings against New Zealand.
Saturday’s game will see a first start in a Test match for Limerick-born hooker Sean Cronin. Twenty-four-year-old Connacht-based Cronin, who won AIL honours with Shannon, has already won two caps as a replacement.

In the absence of Rory Best and Jerry Flannery on Saturday, Cronin finds himself packing down alongside Cian Healy and John Hayes. Ronan O’Gara staved off the challenge of Jonathan Sexton to claim the fly-half spot. David Wallace said it was crucial Ireland get the little things right as they bid to claim a long-awaited victory over the All Blacks.
“We just have to focus on what we can do, the processes that we have to go through and making sure we know all the calls and we know what we’re doing pattern-wise and then do it,” David Wallace said
“That’s our focus. Getting side-tracked by creating history and all that (won’t help) - just playing the All Blacks is a huge motivation in itself.”
The Irish also have the added pressure of getting to grips with the new rules interpretations at the breakdown that the New Zealanders have been getting acclimatised to throughout the Super 14.
“It’s a challenge, but we just have to adapt,” Wallace said.
“There is nothing more to it than that. We haven’t had a lot of games with them.
“It will be an extra challenge for us, but we’ve just got to get on with it and not be complaining about it.”
Injuries have certainly robbed Ireland of some of their best talent for the three-match end of season trip including Munster skipper Paul O’Connell, Rory Best, Keith Earls, Kevin McLaughlin, Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald and Denis Leamy.
A decision on whether hooker Jerry Flannery, who injured his calf in Friday night’s defeat to the Barbarians at Thomond Park will join up with the squad in New Zealand, was due this Tuesday afternoon after the results of a scan become known.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry has included three Test debutants in his starting line-up for the game.
Ben Franks, 26, will make his Test bow alongside his 22-year-old brother Owen in the All Blacks’ front row, having featured for a New Zealand selection against Munster at Thomond Park in November 2008. Israel Dagg, 22 on Sunday, will win his first cap at full-back while Benson Stanley will become All Black number 1102 when he lines up in the Kiwi midfield at inside centre.
Like Ireland, the All Blacks have their fair share of injuries.
Andrew Hore, Ali Williams, Mike Delany and Sitiveni Sivivatu are long term absentees, while a knee injury has ruled centre Ma’a Nonu out of New Zealand’s upcoming games.

Ireland: Robert Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, John Hayes; Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll; John Muldoon, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: John Fogarty*, Tony Buckley, Dan Tuohy*, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Geordan Murphy.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg*; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley*, Joe Rokocoko; Dan Carter Jimmy Cowan; Ben Franks*, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks; Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric; Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read.
* Denotes uncapped player

Colm Kinsella

‘If we perform like that we will be beaten out the gate’

LIMERICK await the winners of Sunday’s replay between Cork and Kerry in the 2010 Munster senior football championship final on July 4.
The Gaelic Grounds will host the decider if Cork are the opponents, but Limerick will have to travel to Killarney if the final is against the reigning All-Ireland champions. It could yet be a bumper day for Limerick city with Bob Dylan in concert in Thomond Park.
Last Sunday Limerick booked their place in a fourth provincial final of the last ten years when they were 1-16 to 1-9 winners over Waterford. Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side were 1-8 to 1-4 ahead at half-time with Milford’s Ger Collins scoring the Limerick goal in the fifth minute.
“It doesn’t matter – whatever I say will be used in evidence against me,” joked the Limerick manager when questioned of his preference for their final opponents.
Since the Kenmare man replaced Liam Kearns as manager in the autumn of 2005 Limerick have never faced Kerry in championship action as Cork have ended the Shannonsiders’ title aspirations for each of the last four seasons.
“We came to win and we won and we are in a Munster final. It’s nice to be there and now that we are there we will start planning,” said the Limerick manager after the semi-final win in Dungarvan.
“If we perform like that we will be beaten out the gate by Cork or Kerry, but then again it will be a new game, a new approach and we will hopefully lift our game,” said the manager who captained Kerry to the 1975 All-Ireland title.
Although nine different scorers got on the scoreboard Limerick registered ten wides.
“That’s nothing new to us. We are fairly handy at that,” said the manager with a rye smile.
He added: “There is an awful lot of work to do to get us up to the next level for the next round”.
Limerick were favourites to overcome Waterford, but O’Sullivan said that he never looked beyond the semi-final hurdle.
“It’s only from this moment on that we will start preparing for the final. Waterford had the advantage of having played a championship game two weeks ago and no matter how you prepare that is a major advantage – it knocks the corners off and steels you,” he said.
Although Waterford ended the game with 13 players O’Sullivan paid tribute to both sides for a fine contest.
“It was unfortunate that they had a man put off, but that’s football. It was a good solid honest sporting game - both teams went out to play football and I didn’t see any dirt, there was none whatsoever.”
Limerick also defeated Waterford in the NFL final, but saw four regulars return for the championship.
“They didn’t have game experience and that is a plus - they all got 60 minutes of championship. None of them had played more than one or two games in 40 weeks. since the Meath game last year was the last time they all played,” said the manager of the returning quartet of Johnny McCarthy, Stephen Lavin, Stephen Lucey and Stephen Kelly.
Meanwhile, Limerick and Kerry will meet in the Munster junior football championship final on Thursday evening, July 8.
There were initial discussions regarding the possible staging of the decider as a curtain-raiser to the Cork and Kerry SFC replay on Sunday, but now the novel final will take place in four weeks as per the schedule. It will be Limerick’s first final since 1963. The Kingdom won that final and the history books have to be traced back to 1950 for Limerick’s last success in this competition.

Jerome O’Connell

Super Blues drawn against Sporting Fingal or Mervue Utd

FOLLOWING their 3-1 win over Tolka Rovers in the FAI Ford Cup third round on Friday night at Jackman Park Pat Scully’s Limerick FC have been drawn away to either Sporting Fingal or Mervue United in the fourth round (last 16).
Sporting Fingal, the defending FAI Ford Cup champions, were promoted last season while Mervue United are second from bottom in Division One - the fourth round matches will be played on the weekend ending Saturday, August 29.
The FAI Ford Cup fourth round draw: Galway United v Salthill Devon, UCD v Bray Wanderers or Derry City, Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers, Bohemians v Shelbourne, Bluebell United or Cork City Foras Co-op v Monaghan United or FC Carlow, Longford Town v Shamrock Rovers, St. Patrick’s Athletic v Belgrove, Mervue United or Sporting Fingal v Limerick FC.
Limerick FC face Finn Harps in the league at Jackman Park on Tuesday night (June 8) at 7.45pm.

Brian McDonnell

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Mullane loses his fight for fitness

LIMERICK full-back Conor Mullane has lost his fight for fitness ahead of Sunday’s Munster senior football championship semi-final against Waterford.

The St. Senan’s man suffered a hamstring strain in training last week and last night failed a fitness test.
The absence of Conor Mullane is one of four changes from the Limerick team which won the National Football League Division Four title in Croke Park last April.
Three of the changes come in defence, with Stephen Lavin and Stephen Lucey returning from injury to take their regular places in the half-back line.
Another returning from injury is Johnny McCarthy and he takes Conor Mullane’s place at full-back.
In attack, Newcastle West’s Stephen Kelly comes into the team in place of John Mullane, with Cormac Joyce-Power also losing out.
Padraig Browne was centre-back in the NFL final and the Fr. Casey’s man has been switche to wing-forward.
Goalkeeper Brian Scanlon will make his championship debut in Dungarvan in a game which starts at 2pm.
Limerick team versus Waterford: Brian Scanlon; Mark O’Riordan, Johnny McCarthy, Andrew Lane; Stephen Lavin, Stephen Lucey, Pa Ranahan; Jim O’Donovan, John Galvin; Padraig Browne, James Ryan, Seanie Buckley; Ger Collins, Ian Ryan, Stephen Kelly.


Monaghan United give Limerick FC the Blues

LIMERICK FC were unceremoniously dumped out of the EA Sports Cup at the quarter-final stage in Jackman Park on Tuesday night when they lost three-nil against an utterly dominant Monaghan Utd.

After a ponderous start to the game Monaghan created the first real goal-scoring opportunity in the 14th minute when Karl Bermingham created a shooting chance for Sean Brennan, but Limerick FC ‘keeper Dave Ryan made a stunning save.
Eight minutes later Aidan Collins flashed his shot over the Limerick bar and the Super Blues looked in real trouble. Limerick responded to the threat posed by the away side however. Pat Scully’s men soon gained a foothold in the game and in the 34th minute, following a brilliant move, Daryl Kavanagh looked to have played Stephen Hickey through on goal, but the Clare man was strangely flagged offside. Then, just as Limerick attempted to absorb that bizarre decision, Monaghan were presented with a 25-yard free kick following a foul on Cathal O’Connor which Philip Hughes curled home via Dave Ryan’s left-hand post.
Monaghan dominated after the break and scored a deserved, if controversial, goal in the 54th minute.
When Conor McMahon delivered a cross Sean Brennan looked completely, and utterly, offside, but the flag stayed down and a delighted Brennan stepped around Dave Ryan before rolling home Monaghan United’s second goal of the evening.
In the 64th minute Sean Brennan stung the hands of Dave Ryan with a snap shot and although Limerick FC manager Pat Scully introduced Robbie Kelleher, David McGrath and Peter Ballough to his side the Super Blues found themselves 3-0 down in the 73rd minute. This time a brilliant Monaghan counter-attack, led by Philip Hughes, culminated when Hughes sprayed the ball out to Sean Brennan on the left flank who expertly steered his shot wide of Dave Ryan and into the bottom right-hand corner of the Limerick goal.
Limerick FC will be back in cup action once more on Friday night when Tolka Rovers visit Jackman Park (7.45pm) in the third round of the FAI Ford Cup.
Although the Glasnevin-based Tolka Rovers are an amateur side and play in the Leinster Senior League they are expected to present Limerick FC with a stern test.
Before the mid-season break Limerick FC will be back in Airtricity League Division One action on Tuesday, June 8 when the Super Blues host Finn Harps at Jackman Park (kick-off 7.45pm) - after next Tuesday night’s encounter Limerick FC will not be back in competitive action until Friday, June 25 when they make the journey to Turner’s Cross to take on Cork City.
Limerick FC have already beaten Finn Harps this season. On Friday, March 26 the Super Blues traveled to Ballybofey in Donegal and won 3-0 thanks to goals from John Tierney, Stephen Hickey and Shane Tracy.
Limerick FC: Dave Ryan, Gavin Roche, Sean Kelly, Declan Cahill, Pat Purcell, Peter White, Daryl Kavanagh, Jeffrey Judge, Jason Hughes, Stephen Hickey, Thomas Lyons. Subs: Robbie Kelleher for Jason Hughes, David McGrath for Stephen Hickey, Peter Ballough for Thomas Lyons.
Monaghan United: Gabriel Sava, Conor McMahon, Anthony Costigan, Aidan Lynch, Brian Gartland, Dom Tierney, Cathal O’Connor, Aidan Collins, Karl Bermingham, Philip Hughes, Sean Brennan.
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare).


Cronin craves a ‘huge’ night at Thomond Park

IRELAND hooker Sean Cronin says Friday night’s clash with the Barbarians at Thomond Park will be a ‘huge’ occasion for him if, as is widely expected, he receives game-time in the glamour MasterCard Trophy clash.
Limerick man Cronin, who has won two full international caps to date, has enjoyed a highly-successful season with Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finalists Connacht.
With Rory Best ruled out of Ireland’s four game end-of-season fixture programme which includes a tour to New Zealand and Australia, hooker Sean Cronin is likely to add to his haul of international appearances in the coming weeks.
The dynamic 24-year-old returns to Thomond Park this Friday night (7.45pm), a venue he is very familiar with from his playing days with Shannon and for a shorter period in the Munster Academy.
Speaking at Ireland’s team base at UL Sean Cronin said: “It (Friday) is going to be a huge night, the chance to play in front of a packed house at Thomond Park. I played a lot of my rugby there at under-age and with Shannon.
“If I am selected it will be a big night for me, for my family and everything that goes with it.
“If selected I have to try and put that to one side and prepare myself as best I can for the game.
“The training have been going extremely well. All of the guys have been pulling together really well. I think everyone involved in the squad is looking forward to these three or four games. It is all ahead of us now.
“It is going to be a tough three and a half weeks. There are a lot of guys going down here with a point to prove in terms of selection for the future. I don’t think they are going to be feeling any tiredness at the end of year.
“In terms of selection, I have to put my best foot forward and hopefully give them some headaches.”
Ireland’s starting XV to face the Barbarians this Friday night is due to be revealed at lunch-time today.
Former Ardscoil Ris star Cronin said he was happy with his move to Connacht 18 months ago where he has been able to get more regular first team action. But he is not ruling out the possibility of a return to his native Munster should the opportunity arise.
“It reached a stage where I had to sit down and weigh up my options, to be honest. Deccie (Kidney) was coaching Munster at the time and I had a good chat with him,” Sean Cronin said.
“We looked at what the best option for me would be. There was a lot of competition in Munster at the time. They were going extremely well, winning Heineken Cups and stuff.
“I had to be honest with myself.
“I am happy that I made the decision to go to Connacht. It has worked out reasonably well.
“Munster is close to my heart. I was in the academy here and I got a few caps with the senior squad.
“The fellows I was in the Munster Academy with here are pushing on into the senior squad, the likes of Tommy O’Donnell, Dave Ryan, Duncan Williams and Billy Holland.
“Obviously from seeing them play on TV down here and at Thomond Park, it is both good to watch and hard to watch. I would never say never about coming back here anyway.”
Two Munster players have been included in the Barbarians side to face the Ireland XV in Friday night’s game.
Paul Warwick will line out at full-back while flanker Alan Quinlan will team up with Wallaby legend George Smith and Cardiff Blues number eight Xavier Rush in a powerful looking back-row. Kiwi Xavier Rush will also captain the side.
Paul warwick (Munster); Cedric Heymans (Toulouse), Casey Laulala (Cardiff Blues), Seru Rabeni (Leeds Carnegie), David Smith (Hurricanes); Brock James (Clermont Auvergne), Pierre Mignoni (Toulon); David Barnes (Bath Rugby), Schalk Brits (Saracens); Census Johnston (Toulouse); Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Malcolm O’Kelly (Leinster); Alan Quinlan (Munster), George Smith (Brumbies), Xavier Rush (Cardiff Blues) (Capt).
Replacements: Julian White (Leicester), Benoit August (Biarritz), Rodney So’oialo (Hurricanes), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues), Byron Kelleher (Toulouse), Jean-Baptiste Ellisalde (Toulouse), Paul Sackey (Wasps), Fabrice Estebanez (Brive).