Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GAA decision frustrates County Board officials

LIMERICK GAA officials have expressed their disappointment after Croke Park overlooked the Gaelic Grounds as a venue for this month’s All-Ireland under-21 hurling final.
Officers of the County Board had made representations to host the September 11 All-Ireland under-21 final between Tipperary and Galway, but this Monday Croke Park officials confirmed that the game would be played under floodlights in Semple Stadium, Thurles.
This decision has left local GAA officials fuming and up in Galway they are equally unimpressed.


On Monday night Galway hurling officials called a meeting with the management of the county’s under-21 side and it is understood that yesterday they made an official request to Croke Park’s management committee of the CCCC to have the venue changed. Leader Sport understands that Galway officials have nominated Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds, O’Connor Park in Tullamore and O’Moore Park in Portlaoise as alternate venues.
The All-Ireland under-21 hurling final has shared a billing with the All-Ireland senior camogie final in recent seasons, but this September the All-Ireland senior, intermediate and junior camogie finals will all be played on September 12 in Croke Park.
GAA officials made a decision earlier this year to move the under-21 decider out of Croke Park and in May fixed the final for Semple Stadium.
“This was done with a view to playing future finals in Semple Stadium. It just so happens that Tipperary happen to be in this year’s final,” said the GAA’s communications manager Alan Milton.
Galway GAA officials had written to Croke Park in the wake of their semi-final win over Dublin (Tipp beat Antrim in their respective semi-final) calling for the decider to be played at a neutral venue.
Limerick can meet all the criteria of Semple Stadium, Thurles in terms of a more than adequate capacity and floodlighting.
“The under-21 final would have been a great dry-run for October 23rds International Rules series in the Gaelic Grounds,” Limerick GAA secretary Mike O’Riordan told Leader Sport.
“Of course we are disappointed - we had hoped that the final would be fixed for Limerick. It was an ideal opportunity for a big game to be played in Limerick,” said the full-time secretary.
Meanwhile, it’s a quiet weekend on the local GAA scene in Limerick, but five different clubs will take part in the annual Meteor Kilmacud Crokes Hurling Sevens on the eve of Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling championship final between Kilkenny and Tipperary.
Recently deposed Limerick SHC champions Adare are in group eight along with Kilruane McDonaghs (Tipperary), Eire Og Corra Choill (Kildare) and Cashel King Cormacs (Tipperary). Croom will play All-Ireland club champions from 2006, ‘08 and ‘09 and All-Ireland Sevens winners in ‘04 and ‘08 Portumna who are led by Joe and Ollie Canning. Also in group four are Eire Og Annacarty-Donohill of Tipperary and Rapparees-Starlights of Wexford.
In group five Murroe-Boher are paired with defending champions Moycarkey Borris (Tipperary), Carrigtwohill of Cork and Lorrha-Dorrha of Tipperary. Patrickswell will face Bride Rovers (Cork), Portroe (Tipperary) and Blackwater-St. Brigid’s (Wexford). The fifth Limerick side are Granagh-Ballingarry and then will play Killenaule (Tipperary), Ballinhassig (Cork) and Shelmaliers (Wexford).

JEROME O’CONNELL

Injured ankle sidelines Keith Earls

RESULTS of a scan on the injured ankle of Munster star Keith Earls has revealed that the 22-year-old has suffered a sprain.
Earls is not expected to resume training again for several weeks.
The Limerick man was involved in a training accident in Cork at the start of last week.
Keith Earls attended the Munster squad training in Cork yesterday although his role was confined to that of a spectator on the sidelines.
The exciting Irish international has had a cruel run of luck with injuries recently. He missed Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand and Australia due to a persistent groin injury.
The Munster squad for the opening Magners League clash with Aironi Rugby at Musgrave Park this Saturday evening (7.30pm) will be announced at noon today.
Meanwhile five UL-Bohemian players have been included in the Irish Women’s team to face the USA in today’s fifth to eighth place playoff at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in the Surrey Sports Park, England (4pm)
UL Bohs’ Joy Neville, who has been in terrific try-scoring form throughout the tournament, will again fill the number eight slot.
Neville will be joined in the Irish line-up by her clubmates, team captain Fiona Coghlan and Gillian Bourke in the front-row, centre Lynne Cantwell and scrum-half Louise Beamish.
Cantwell won her 60th cap in Ireland’s impressive victory over Kazakhstan in the final pool game. Ireland have already beaten the USA in the group stages of the tournament.
Ireland: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel & Munster); Amy Davis (Blackrock & Leinster), Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohemians), Shannon Houston (Blackrock & Leinster), Eliza Downey (Cooke & Ulster); Joanne O’Sullivan (Richmond & Exile), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemian & Munster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians & Leinster) (capt), Yvonne Nolan (Blackrock & Leinster), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians & Munster); Kate O’Loughlin (Clonmel & Munster), Marie Louise Reilly (Navan & Leinster); Orla Brennan (Blackrock & Leinster), Sinead Ryan (Blackrock & Leinster), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians & Munster). Replacements: Chris Fanning (Highfield & Munster), Louise Austin (UL Bohemians & Munster), Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians & Munster), Carol Staunton (Galwegians & Connacht), Claire Molloy (Bristol & Connacht), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere & Leinster), Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians & Munster).
Meanwhile the Limerick Charity Cup continues tonight when Garryowen host last season’s beaten finalists UL-Bohemians in the last of the quarter-finals at Dooradoyle. The game has a 7.30pm kick-off. The winners of this tie will face Young Munster in the semi-finals. The remaining semi-final will see Shannon host Bruff this Saturday at Coonagh (2.30pm).

COLM KINSELLA

Lee faces into hectic six-week schedule

ANDY Lee is facing into a hectic six-week schedule as he plans two quick-fire contests.
The 26-year-old Limerick pro-boxer has two fights scheduled for the coming weeks, but neither are to take place in Limerick.


The Castleconnell middleweight will be back in the ring on September 17 when he fights Michael Walker at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Lee will headline the 10-fight card with a 10-round contest against Walker who is a home town favourite.
Thirty-two-year-old Walker has 19 wins from his 25 pro-fights, but has suffered losses in his last three contests. Walker has only fought twice in 2010 and only had one fight in 2009.
Lee, meanwhile, stretched his unbeaten run to seven fights last month when he recorded his 22nd professional boxing win in the Buffalo Run Casino in Oklahoma. The fifth round knockout of James Cook was Lee’s seventh straight win since his only career defeat of March 2008 when he surprisingly lost to Brian Vera.
The win over 32-year-old Cook of Missouri was the Castleconnell man’s fourth knockout win out of his last seven bouts.
If the former St. Francis Boxing Club Olympian is successful on September 17 he could be back in action just two weeks later with an October 2 date provisionally marked into his diary.
That bout will take place in the Horseshoe Casino in Indiana - a venue where Lee defeated Anthony Shuler last August.
“I have to say it’s great to be back in action so soon. I need to keep busy, after only fighting twice so far this year it will serve me well to stay active,” said Lee of his busy schedule.
Although Walker’s recent record points to a Lee win the Limerick man is taking nothing for granted.
“Michael Walker is no push over. I will have to be on top of my game, especially fighting him in his home town. He will try and train even harder for this fight, but I’ll be ready for him. I know him well, I’ve watched him fight a few times and know his style. He’s a tough, rugged, aggressive fighter, but he is short and one paced so I will use my height and speed and look to out box him,” said Lee.
Meanwhile another of Limerick’s professional boxers Willie Casey was also due to fight in September, but he is no longer on the Barry McGuigan promoted event on September 18 in the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
That event will be headlined by Carl Frampton and was also to include Casey, but the 28-year-old super bantamweight has been withdrawn.
Last month the Southill man extended his record to ten wins from ten bouts and moved up to number nine in the Euro rankings following his win over Italian Emiliano Salvini in an eight round super bantamweight in Dublin’s City-West Hotel Complex.

Jerome O’Connell

Munster look set to maintain their ‘back to basics’ approach

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan is encouraged by the improvement in the side’s scrum and rolling maul ahead of Saturday evening’s big Magners League opener against Aironi Rugby at Musgrave Park (7.30pm).
Munster’s pack turned in an impressive display in their pre-season victory over Gloucester on Friday night and the ‘back to basics’ approach looks set to be maintained as the province locks horns with Italian newcomers Aironi in Cork this weekend.
Tony McGahan said: “When you finish a season as we did last year there are a lot of focal points going into this one. The set-piece is such a crucial part of results.
“We weren’t anywhere near where we needed to be last season with those areas.
“We put a lot of work into them with Paul (Mccarthy) coming on and doing a great job with the scrum. Laurie (Fisher) and Axel (Anthony Foley) have done tremendous work with the maul. They are two weapons we want to get back into our game and be a cornerstone going forward with them. Tonight (game with Gloucester) certainly was a step in the right direction. We had a tough hit out against a full strength Leicester side the previous week, but we saw the fruits of that against Gloucester.
“The game is ever-changing across the whole pitch, but there are some elements which don’t change. Having a solid set-piece, a good solid scrum and line-out to work off in order to be able to play either through the opposition or around them is very important.
“We hope to continue making progress in those areas.”
Saturday’s opponents Aironi Rugby have assembled a very decent squad which includes impressive front-row forwards Salvatore Perugini, hooker Fabio Ongaro and prop Matias Aguero.
Marco Bortolami, who has joined from Gloucester, and former Ulster player Carlo Del Fava are quality locks. In the back-row, New Zealander Josh Sole has won 46 caps for Italy while former Auckland Blue, Nick Williams has joined the Italian set-up from Munster this summer.
Experienced French out-half Ludovic Mercier, who was a prolific points-scorer with Gloucester, is a key member of the Aironi backline.
Saturday night’s game will be televised live on RTE 2 with coverage beginning at 7.15pm.
Meanwhile, the Munster U20s open their Interprovincial campaign when they host Ulster at the Mardyke on Friday evening (7pm). Munster warmed up for the series with a friendly fixture against a UCC selection at Cork IT on Friday last.

Munster U20s squad 2010/11: John Randles (Crescent College Comprehensive), Tom Doyle (Rockwell), Paul Mullen (Kings Hospital), Jake Considine (Young Munster), Ian Mullarkey (Dolphin), Kieran Stokes (Christians), Kevin O’Byrne (UCC), Niall Scannell (PBC), Brian Vaughan (PBC), David O’Mahony (PBC), Tom Goggin (St Munchin’s College), Rob O’Herlihy (PBC), Yasin Browne (Christians), Shane Buckley (Rockwell), Simon Hanbidge (Christians), Jack Duffy (PBC), Conal Murphy (UCC), Luke Cahill (Rockwell) Cathal O’Flaherty (PBC), Henry Travers (Bandon Grammer School), Ronan Barry (PBC), Eoin O’Shaughnessy (PBC), Sean Upton (Young Munster), Gareth Quinn McDonagh (Shannon), Johnny Holland (UCC), JJ Hanarahan (Rockwell), Sean Og Murphy (PBC), Lucas Kunz (St Munchin’s College), Daniel Horgan (PBC), Ben Sargent (Shannon), Cian Bohane (Dolphin), Jamie McGarry (Ard Scoil Ris), Dara O’Doherty (Crescent College Comprehensive), Corey Hircock (Garryowen), Olan Dennehy (UCC), Cathal Quinn (CBC), Jack Costigan (PBC), Eoin O’Donnell (Cork Con), Derry O’Connor (Garryowen), Jack Murray (St Munchin’s College).

Colm Kinsella

Monday, August 30, 2010

Extent of Keith Earls’ ankle injury will be known today

MUNSTER star Keith Earls was due to have further medical examinations today to help determine the exact extent of his damaged ankle.
The exciting Earls sustained the injury in training in Cork at the start of last week and although initial indications are that there is no break, today’s scan should determine the full extent of the injury.


Twenty-two-year-old Earls has had a cruel run of luck with injuries recently - he missed Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand and Australia due to a groin injury.
Meanwhile Munster’s focus now switches to their opening competitive fixture of the new season, a home Magners League tie against competition newcomers, Aironi Rugby, of Italy, at Musgrave Park this Saturday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
Munster completed their programme of pre-season fixtures when recording a gritty victory over Gloucester in Cork on Friday night.
Tries from Wian du Preez and Alan Quinlan guided Munster to a 15-10 success.
Tony McGahan’s starting line up for the game included the likes of Alan Quinlan, Tony Buckley, Damien Varley, Peter Stringer, Felix Jones, Ian Nagle and Doug Howlett.
Mick O’Driscoll and Niall Ronan both made appearances from the bench and there was also a first Munster start for Johne Murphy who partnered fellow newcomer Sam Tuitupou at centre.
Munster’s Irish internationals have been given the all clear to feature in the opening rounds of the new Magners League season.
In a change from last year’s policy Munster internationals stars such as Ronan O’Gara, David Wallace, Marcus Horan, Tomas O’Leary and Donncha O’Callaghan will be available for selection, if fit, for the upcoming Magners League games.
Under the player management scheme endorsed by the IRFU, big names missed the first month of last season, with many of them having toured South Africa with the Lions.
That won’t be the case this year after Ireland’s governing body gave clubs and provinces permission to select their big names from week one or two of the season.
“The big difference this year is that most of the international players will be available to play in Magners League (week) One and then there are seven or eight other internationals - the guys who are going to play a lot of football this year and who played a lot of football last year - who will start Magners League Two,” Ireland manager Paul McNaughton said.
“The programme is very similar to last year, making sure the players who are playing the most football have rest periods.
“There are agreed rest periods which will be giving a player a match off in a certain phase, depending on the player, and it’s up to the provinces to decide what match that is.
“The other thing is that there are two Magners League games on in November and four more during the Six Nations and the international players will not be available for them.
“The top players, depending on age will play anything from 26 to 32 games, which is the same as last year.
“The approach is different but the objective is the same: we want players in good shape at the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, on the club front, Shannon set up a Limerick Charity Cup semi-final meeting with Bruff after recording a convincing 44-13 quarter-final win over Old Crescent at Rosbrien on Friday night. Colm Tucker’s side ran in six tries, three in each half.
Holders Young Munster also advanced to the semi-final courtesy of a 33-21 victory over Nenagh ormond at Tom Clifford Park.
Munsters’ now face the winners of this Wednesday night’s clash of Garryowen and UL-Bohemian which takes place at Dooradoyle on Wednesday night at 7.30pm.

COLM KINSELLA

Former champions Claughaun now face the dreaded drop

CLAUGHAUN, who have won the county senior football championship on 14 occasions, are now staring potential relegation in the face - following the final round of group games the Hoops must now take on Newcastle West in a play-off with the loser of that game facing the dreaded drop.
Claughaun prepared for Saturday night’s encounter with Ballysteen knowing that a win would propel near neighbours St. Patrick’s into the relegation play-off, but the Hoops lost by five points (0-3 to 0-8) in Clarina and must now steel themselves for a battle with Newcastle West side who most recently beat Fr. Casey’s 1-10 to 0-9.
Group one of the Limerick’s Live 95FM county senior football championship concluded with Claughaun’s disappointing result against Ballysteen, Drom-Broadford’s 1-8 to 0-9 win over St. Kieran’s and St. Patrick’s 2-10 to 1-11 win over Monaleen. St. Pat’s stormed to an impressive two-point win over Monaleen in Claughaun and thereby ensured their survival in the senior ranks, but were cruelly ruled out of the knock-out stages on scoring difference.
Monaleen will now face Fr. Casey’s in the quarter-finals (scheduled for the weekending Sunday, September 12). Drom-Broadford, the defending champions, progress as group one winners directly to the semi-finals while the second placed Ballysteen will take on Ballylanders in the quarter-finals. Adare won group two and maintained their 100 per cent record with a 1-10 to 0-7 win over Pallasgreen on Saturday evening. Although Fr. Casey’s lost to Newcastle West the Abbeyfeale men were already guaranteed their place in the knock-out stages while Ballylanders took the honours in a winner-takes-all afair at Ballyagran when they beat St. Senan’s 1-14 to 1-9.
On Sunday evening group one of the county intermediate football championship concluded with a win for Mungret over Athea, Hospital-Herbertstown beat Cappamore and Na Piarsaigh saw off Mountcollins. In group two Galbally beat Bruff, Gerald Griffins beat Croom and Oola enjoyed a five-point win over Galtee Gaels.
Those results combined now mean that Oola and Hospital-Herbertstown progress directly to the sem-finals as group winners. In the quarter-finals Mountcollins will meet Bruff and Mungret face Galbally. The relegation final will pit Cappamore against the Galtee Gaels.
Meanwhile the Limerick ladies footballers fought their way back into the All-Ireland junior final on Saturday thanks to a 1-11 to 0-8 semi-final win over Wexford at St. Lachtain’s Park in Freshford, County Kilkenny.
The Tommy Stack-managed side proved far too strong for Wexford with star forward Dympna O’Brien contributing 1-9 to Limerick’s tally while inspirational full-back Sandra Healy walked away with the player of the match award.
Limerick lost last year’s All-Ireland final to Antrim, but enjoy an opportunity to set the record straight on Sunday, September 26 when they will face Louth in the decider.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Bumper crowd expected for cup replay

A BUMPER crowd is expected at Jackman Park this evening (kick-off 7.45pm) for the FAI Ford Cup fourth round replay between Limerick FC and Sporting Fingal.
On Friday night Limerick FC fought back from two goals down at the Morton Stadium in Santry to earn a two-all draw and a replay against Sporting Fingal.
Even the most ardent of Super Blue fans would not have considered tonight’s game a realistic possibility when Pat Scully’s side fell 0-2 behind inside the opening 20 minutes against the Premier Division outfit. Limerick FC fought back however, first through captain Pat Purcell in the 49th minute and then Stephen O’Flynn struck for a stunning equaliser in second half injury time.
The winners of tonight’s fourth round clash will go into the hat for the quarter-final draw and although a potential final at the Aviva Stadium is most attractive Limerick FC will be eager to get back to winning ways in the league as soon as possible. Following an abject performance against Derry City, when the Super Blues lost 0-1 at Jackman Park, the performance against Sporting Fingal will give the club a huge lift ahead of this Friday night’s encounter with Longford Town at Jackman Park (7.45pm). The Super Blues have encountered Longford Town twice this season, losing once and winning once. Longford paid a visit to Jackman Park on March 19 and lost 0-2. The sides clashed once more on May 29 when Longford Town won 1-0.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Galvin: 'I'll be back!'

FOOTBALL fans will be relieved to learn that Croom’s John Galvin has committed himself to another season with Limerick.
When manager Mickey Ned O’Sullivan informed the Football Board last week that he did not wish to be considered for a sixth successive season in charge there were initial fears that John Galvin, widely and rightfully recognised as one of the best midfielders in the country, would call time on his glittering inter-county career.


The Croom stalwart, although stunned by Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s decision, told Leader Sport this week that, after careful consideration, he will pull on the Limerick jersey for at least one more season.
“I’ll be back, there’s no doubt about it,” the 30-year-old John Galvin said.
“I’ll be there again next year. I’m not waiting to see who the next manager is or anything like that. I’ll be there no matter what.”
From an emotional point of view the 2010 campaign was difficult for John Galvin to stomach. Galvin made his debut for Limerick in 1998, captained the Shannonsiders to a Munster under-21 football title in 2000 and inspired Limerick to Allianz National Football League division four honours last April when Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side beat Waterford in the final at Croke Park, but has suffered defeat in four Munster senior finals - to Kerry in 2003 & 2004, to Cork in 2009 and to Kerry, once more, last July.
Indeed, considering how close Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s Limerick had come to winning a first Munster title since 1896 in Killarney John Galvin was surprised last Thursday when O’Sullivan broke the news to the Croom man personally.
“To be honest I was never expecting Mickey Ned to go. I was shocked really. I really thought he would come back and give it another year.
“That’s what everyone thought, but, obviously, Mickey Ned believes we need something new and that it was time for someone else to come in and have a go at it. He could be right.
“I’m disappointed that he is going, but in saying that there’s a big opportunity there now for someone to come in and do something with the team.”
And, Croom’s John Galvin does not expect the players to be consulted during the selection process by the Football Board.
“It’s all down to the Football Board really. Maybe when they get it down to a couple of names they might consult a couple of the players to see what they think at that stage, but at the end of the day the decision is their’s. The final decision will always rest with them,” John Galvin said.
John Galvin hopes that whoever assumes responsibility for the senior team will be able to inspire Limerick to footballing glory: “Hopefully whoever comes in will be able to takes us that bit further forward.
“We’ve come so close that maybe someone new might be able to help us take it that little bit further, to help us get over the line. It’s a great opportunity for any manager to come in.
“We’re very close to making a breakthrough, we’re very close as a squad and we’re ambitious.
“Maybe all we need is someone new to come in and get us over the line.”
Meanwhile the Independent Appointments Committee, charged with finding a successor to Justin McCarthy or re-appointing the Cork man as Limerick senior hurling manager, are still not prepared to make any public comment on their deliberations. The committee did conduct interviews in recent weeks with those nominated for the role while it remains to be seen if Damien Quigley, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Jim Woulfe will pin-point their own candidate. Former Cork manager Dónal O’Grady, for instance, has been strongly linked with the role.
It now looks likely that the Limerick manager may not be ratified at next month’s (September 14) meeting of the County Board.

Brian McDonnell

A ‘new voice’ needed for Limerick football

THE search has begun in earnest to replace Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as Limerick senior football manager.
The Football Board, led by chairman John Galvin and secretary Sean McAuliffe, has been tasked with identifying a candidate to bring before the County Board for final ratification.


The Football Board met on Friday night to consider their options while the rumour mill has already linked former Ballylanders coach Tom McGlinchy with the job as well as current Monaleen manager Ger Lawlor, former Limerick supremo Liam Kearns, Drom-Broadford coach Ned English and out-going Limerick under-21 manager Maurice Horan.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, the 58-year-old Kenmare man who has guided the fortunes of the Limerick senior football team for the past five years, informed Football Board officials on Thursday evening that he did not wish to be considered for a sixth successive term in charge.
Speaking on behalf of the out-going management team Mickey Ned O’Sullivan told Leader Sport that Limerick now needed a “new voice” and that he his decision to step down was in the “best interests of the team”.
“From my point of view five years is a long time to be involved with one team,” Mickey Ned O’Sullivan said.
“Only Mickey Harte (Tyrone) has been managing an inter-county team for a similar length of time.
“I want what is best for the team and what is best for Limerick football now is a new voice and a new approach. And, I hope that new voice can refresh and re-energise the team.
“I don’t think that as a management team we could have been any better this year. At the start of each year we asked ourselves how we could improve as a management team and how we could take it to the next level. And, in everything we did this year I thought we were excellent. I find it very difficult to see how we could improve on that. I hope a new appointment can take Limerick to that next level. I will miss Limerick football. Over the years I had grown to treat both the players and the rest of the management team as a family rather than a football team. The hardest part of it is saying goodbye to that.”
An emotional Mickey Ned also admitted that he was leaving a big part of his sporting life behind him.
“The players and the management were like one big family so when you’re suddenly leaving all that behind there are obvious withdrawal symptons. It has been emotional.”
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s term in charge came to a technical end when the Shannonsiders suffered a defeat at the hands of Cork in an All-Ireland qualifier on July 24 (0-16 to 1-11 after extra-time at the Gaelic Grounds), but the Football Board had been hopeful of tempting the Kerry man back for at least one more year.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, who captained Kerry to an All-Ireland title in 1975, was appointed manager of the Limerick senior footballers prior to the 2006 championship. While Limerick won the National Football League Division Four title this year the efforts of Mickey Ned’s men in the championship proved ultimately frustrating.
In five seasons Mickey Ned O’Sullivan guided Limerick into championship action on 16 different occasions. While the Shannonsiders only managed to win seven of those championship encounters Limerick proved extremely difficult to beat and narrowly missed out on winning a first Munster title since 1896 last July when they lost to Kerry in Killarney. Another undoubted highlight of O’Sullivan’s five-year term in charge was Limerick’s sensational 4-12 to 4-3 win over Meath in the 2008 All-Ireland qualifiers at the Gaelic Grounds.
“There are no regrets for me personally,” added Mickey Ned.
“I always treated my time in Limerick as part of my personal journey rather than as a destination. I feel we made amazing progress during my time in charge and I think the players feel that way too. It’s just a pity that we didn’t enjoy that little bit more success, I think the lads deserved at least a Munster title.”
In stark contrast to the management of senior hurling team, who criticised members of the 2009 hurling squad for indiscipline, Mickey Ned O’Sullivan had nothing but praise for the Limerick players.
“In my time there was not one incident of indiscipline,” he insisted.
“That’s the reality of dealing with this group of players. I would love to stay and work with the players for another year, but that would not be in the best interests of the team.
“The whole journey was something I really enjoyed. I’ve been involved in sport all of my life and I have never had such a positive experience as I did in Limerick. We did have our ups and downs, but the people we had involved on the team and with the team were exceptional. Everyone of the management team made my job easy and all I had to do really was co-ordinate.
“And, we didn’t have one spot of bother with the players. Limerick people should be really proud of that group of players, they really are an exceptional bunch of people.”
And, while Mickey Ned O’Sullivan believes that there is a bright future for Limerick he has warned administrators of the game on Shannonside that great care must be taken to develop football in the county.
“The future is bright for Limerick football. If you look at the forwards their average age is just 22. It was a great pleasure to work with the Limerick players and see them become some of the best forwards, midfielders and defenders in Gaelic football,” O’Sullivan explained.
“Limerick don’t have the same amount of players as other counties, they simply don’t have the same population of lads playing the game. So, the Football Board need to establish a conveyor belt and make sure the same message is getting through from the senior team all the way down.
“Limerick needs quality people at all levels of the game and all of those people need to be singing off the same hymn sheet. Limerick need to manage their resources carefully.
“In fairness the Football Board know that and that’s what they are trying to implement.”

Brian McDonnell

Leamy: ‘Onwards and upwards’

MUNSTER number eight Denis Leamy is hoping its a case of ‘onwards and upwards’ after making a successful return from long-term injury against the Leicester Tigers.
Leamy, who had been sidelined since injuring his knee in Munster’s Heineken Cup clash away to Perpignan last December, returned in style at Musgrave Park on Friday night when bagging an opportunist try in his side’s narrow defeat to the Tigers.


The 28-year-old will continue his comeback this Friday night when Tony McGahan’s men host Aviva Premiership side Gloucester in a second pre-season friendly at Musgrave Park (7pm).
“We have a lot of things to work on ahead of the game with Gloucester,” Denis Leamy said.
“It was great to captain the side against Leicester. I am just taking it one game at a time. I will see where I am in six weeks or two months time and will reassess things then.
“I think there were a lot of positives from the game with Leicester. We came up against a strong line-up. We had a lot of lads here who are in their first few years with Munster and we also had a blend of the older players with them.
“All in all there were a lot of positives to take from the performance.
“My knee felt fine. I am delighted to get 70 minutes under my belt. Hopefully it’s a case of onwards and upwards for me from here.
“Like everyone out there I was stuck for breath a few times and my legs did feel like jelly during the long phases of play, but it was great to get that competitive playing time.
“In the days leading up to the match, I did not think about the game much. I did not want to get too anxious about it or get too worried about the what ifs. I just went out and tried to play. I am delighted to get it over me. I trust my knee know and that is a big positive.”
Munster coach Tony McGahan explained that he expected to re-introduce up to eight new faces into the squad for Friday night’s clash with Gloucester. More experienced heads will come back into the squad for the Magners League opener with Aironi Rugby in the first weekend in September while the remainder will be available for the second fixture in the competition a week later. And, coach McGahan said he was delighted with how Denis leamy’s comeback had gone.
“Denis was immense. I thought he led the side very well,” Tony McGahan enthused.
“He has been chomping at the bit to get back into rugby. Unfortunately when he got injured Denis was playing tremendous rugby.
“James Coughlan stepped in and did a fantastic job. You have young Paddy Butler and Peter O’Mahony who are coming through the ranks. David Wallace can play at eight as well, so we are well served in that area.”
Meanwhile, an X-ray on Keith Earls’ ankle injury this week has revealed no new break. Earls picked up the injury in a non-contact situation during rehabilitation work on an existing groin problem on Monday in Cork.
The utility back will need to undergo further medical examination later in the week to determine the full extent of the damage.
The IRFU has confirmed that the injury happened during training with the Munster squad, and not with the Ireland squad, who are currently involved in a 35-man camp in Belfast.
Munster lock Paul O’Connell, who was confirmed as the side’s skipper for this season once again, is expected to be to be sidelined until December due to a troublesome groin infection.
The 30-year-old is set to miss the opening half of the Magners League programme, Munster’s opening two fixtures in the Heineken Cup and Ireland’s autumn internationals against South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina.
Should O’Connell return in early December his first game back could be the December 4 Magners League clash with the Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park - a week ahead of the third round of the Heineken Cup against the Ospreys at Thomond Park.
Meanwhile, Munster Rugby received a boost prior to the start of the competitive season when Toyota Ireland announced that it is to extend its partnership with the province until June 2013 in a sponsorship deal worth €5.75million.
Toyota’s partnership with Munster - worth €5.75 million over the next three seasons - includes title sponsorship of senior Munster Rugby teams competing in the Magner’s League, Heineken Cup and British and Irish Cup.
The three-year deal will bring Toyota’s investment to well beyond €13 million since they came on board as principal sponsors in July 2004.

Colm Kinsella

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

O’Connell welcomes emerging new talent

MUNSTER skipper Paul O’Connell believes the emergence of several exciting young players during the pre-season period will instil a welcome new freshness into the side with the start of the competitive season looming large.


Munster’s young guns impressed in last Friday night’s pre-season friendly against a full-strength Leicester Tigers. And, the province’s management team will be hoping that the emerging players can stake a further claim for inclusion in the side to face Aironi Rugby in their opening Magners League fixture of the season at Musgrave Park on Saturday, September 4 when they take on Gloucester in their final pre-season friendly this Friday night (7.30pm).
Speaking at the launch of the new Magners League season at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Tuesday Paul O’Connell said the emergence of the young blood within the squad would serve to freshen things up.
“The young guys have really stepped up to the mark. It is something we need in the squad,” O’Connell said.
“We need some young blood on the pitch playing and we need some young blood around the dressing room as well. It has been a little while coming.
“The British & Irish Cup was good for them last year. Hopefully a few of these guys come in and can step up this season. They will bring a fresh voice and a fresh way of doing things.
“When we won the Magners League two years ago, the main reason we did so was because of the strength in depth in the squad. During the autumn internationals and Six Nations games, I think I am right in saying, we won all our games. That was where we won the competition.
“Hopefully the young guys coming through in the squad can contribute in a similar way this season. Last season we reached two semi-finals.
“There probably always is pressure on us to deliver trophies. I don’t think that is a bad thing. I believe it makes us better. It makes us strive to produce higher standards all the time.
“We probably got to the semi-finals last season not playing the way we wanted to. It was disappointing not to pick up a trophy last season. There will be a big focus to try and win something this season.”
Paul O’Connell is recovering from a long-term groin injury and is not expected to return to competitive action until December. The Lions captain admitted that the prolonged period on the sideline is frustrating.
“I am not a very good spectator. I struggle a bit with it,” Paul O’Connell admitted.
“It is hard when you are captain and the lads are doing all the hard work.
“You end up commenting on things. It is all well and good when you are doing the hard work with them, but when you are sitting on the sidelines watching it is hard. It will be hard, but I have to grin and bear it. I will have plenty to say. I will be opinionated.”
Munster have also been boosted by the return of Denis Leamy, Donnacha Ryan, Ian Dowling and Felix Jones from long-term injuries ahead of the start of the season.
“Last year against Perpignan away in December was probably our best performance of the season and Denis Leamy was outstanding in that game.
“It was a great lift. Then you hear about his injury the following morning and it is so deflating for everyone.
“To have him back and to see how well he played against Leicester on Friday night was a big boost. He is a real talisman for us, a leader. He is a very important ball carrier for us.”
Meanwhile Munster fans were sighing with relief on Tuesday afternoon when news broke that Keith Earls had avoided a serious ankle injury.
Earls picked up an injury in a non-contact situation during rehabiliation work on an existing groin problem, but an X-ray revealed no new break.
The outstanding utility back will undergo further medical examination later in the week to determine the full extent of the damage.
The IRFU have insisted that the injury happened during training with the Munster squad, and not with the Ireland squad, who are currently involved in a 35-man camp in Belfast.

COLM KINSELLA

Limerick FC anniversary tinged with real sadness

TODAY, August 24, marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever European Cup tie hosted on Shannonside - in 1960 Swiss champions Young Boys of Berne faced Limerick FC in front of a 10,000-strong crowd at Thomond Park and won 5-0.
Limerick won the league tite in 1959-60 and duly earned the right to compete in the European Cup for the first time. The Super Blues were pitted against Young Boys of Berne, who, tonight, take on Tottenham Hotspur in a Champions League play-off at White Hart Lane.


While Limerick FC lost 0-5 at Thomond Park Georgie Lynam and Leo O’Reilly plundered away goals for the Irish champions in Berne when Young Boys won 4-2.
Memories of that famous event were tinged with sadness this week for senior soccer fans when the news broke on Tuesday that the historic Market’s Field, long associated with senior soccer in Limerick city, was put out to public tender by the Irish Greyhound Board.
The Irish Greyhound Board announced that it was putting the local landmark up for sale and that it had received a “number of expressions of interest in the property”.
“Now that we are about to commence a new era for greyhound racing in the city, it is the right time to formalise the sale process and move it forward,” said Adrian Neilan, CEO of the Irish Greyhound Board, speaking about the 5.35-acre site which is located in Garryowen.
Pat O’Sullivan, CEO of Limerick FC, is believed to have made a substantial bid for the property, but that it was not accepted. Pat O’Sullivan has long stated his ambition to return the club to the Market’s Field.
The Limerick FC bid for the Market’s Field still stands, but there is a real danger now that senior soccer may never return to the famous venue, a venue many fans consider to be the club’s spirital home.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Monday, August 23, 2010

Leamy: ‘I’m taking it one game at a time’

MUNSTER number eight Denis Leamy is hoping it’s a case of ‘onwards and upwards’ after making a successful return from long-term injury against the Leicester Tigers.
Leamy, who had been sidelined since injuring his knee in Munster’s Heineken Cup clash away to Perpignan last December, returned in style at Musgrave Park on Friday night when bagging an opportunist try in his side’s narrow defeat to the Tigers.


The 28-year-old will continue his comeback this Friday night when Tony McGahan’s men host Aviva Premiership side Gloucester in a second pre-season friendly at Musgrave Park (7pm).
“We have a lot of things to work on ahead of the game with Gloucester,” Denis Leamy said.
“It was great to captain the side against Leicester. I am just taking it one game at a time. I will see where I am in six weeks or two months time and will reassess things then.
“I think there were a lot of positives from the game with Leicester.
“We came up against a strong line-up. We had a lot of lads here who are in their first few years with Munster and we also had a blend of the older players with them.
“All in all there were a lot of positives to take from the performance.
“My knee felt fine. I am delighted to get 70 minutes under my belt. Hopefully it’s a case of onwards and upwards for me from here.
“Like everyone out there I was stuck for breath a few times and my legs did feel like jelly during the long phases of play, but it was great to get that competitive playing time.
“In the days leading up to the match, I did not think about the game much. I did not want to get too anxious about it or get too worried about the what ifs. I just went out and tried to play. I am delighted to get it over me. I trust my knee now and that is a big positive.”
Munster coach Tony McGahan explained that he expected to re-introduce up to eight new faces into the squad for Friday night’s clash with Gloucester.
More experienced heads will come back into the squad for the Magners League opener with Aironi Rugby in the first weekend in September while the remainder will be available for the second fixture in the competition a week later.
Coach McGahan said he was delighted with how Denis leamy’s comeback had gone.
“Denis was immense out there. I thought he led the side very well,” Tony McGahan enthused.
“He has been chomping at the bit to get back into rugby. Unfortunately when he got injured Denis was playing tremendous rugby.
“James Coughlan stepped in and did a fantastic job. You have young Paddy Butler and Peter O’Mahony who are coming through the ranks. David Wallace can play at eight as well so we are well served in that area.”
Meanwhile Munster Rugby received a boost prior to the start of the competitive season when Toyota Ireland announced that it is to extend its partnership with the province until June 2013 in a sponsorship deal worth €5.75 million.
Toyota’s partnership with Munster - worth €5.75 million over the next three seasons - includes title sponsorship of senior Munster Rugby teams competing in the Magner’s League, Heineken Cup and British & Irish Cup.
The three-year deal will bring Toyota’s investment to well beyond €13 million since they came on board as principal sponsors in July 2004.
It has also been confirmed that Paul O’Connell will continue as senior captain for the coming year although the Limerick man is not expected to make a return to competitive action until December as he continues his recovery from a groin injury.

COLM KINSELLA

Search begins for new senior football manager

THE Football Board, led by chairman John Galvin and secretary Sean McAuliffe, have begun the search for a new senior football manager.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, the 58-year-old Kenmare man who has guided the fortunes of the Limerick senior football team for the past five years, informed Football Board officials on Thursday evening that he did not wish to be considered for a sixth successive season in charge.
Speaking on behalf of the out-going management team Mickey Ned O’Sullivan told Leader Sport that Limerick now needed a “new voice” and that he his decision to step down was in the “best interests of the team”.
“From my point of view five years is a long time to be involved with one team,” Mickey Ned O’Sullivan said.
“I want what is best for the team and what is best for Limerick football now is a new voice and a new approach.
“And, I hope that new voice can refresh and re-energise the team,” O’Sullivan said.
“I don’t think that as a management team we could have been any better this year.
“At the start of each year we asked ourselves how we could improve as a management team and how we could take it to the next level. And, in everything we did this year I thought we were excellent.
“I find it very difficult to see how we could improve on that. I hope a new appointment can take Limerick to that next level,” O’Sullivan added.
O’Sullivan’s term in charge came to a technical end when the Shannonsiders suffered a defeat at the hands of Cork in an All-Ireland qualifier on July 24 (0-16 to 1-11 after extra-time at the Gaelic Grounds), but the Football Board had been hopeful of tempting the Kerry man back for at least one more year.
Mickey Ned O’Sullivan was appointed manager of the Limerick senior footballers prior to the 2006 championship. While Limerick won the National Football League Division Four title this year the efforts of Mickey Ned’s men in the championship proved ultimately frustrating.
Meanwhile the group phase of the senior football championship will come to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday next when six games throw-in at 6.45pm. Over the weekend, in group one, St. Patrick’s hammered St. Kieran’s (4-13 to 0-12), Claughaun lost to Drom-Broadford (0-4 to 0-9) while Ballysteen got the better of Monaleen (1-10 to 2-5).
Those results essentially mean that Drom-Broadford have won the group with a game to play, that Claughaun must beat Ballysteen or hope that Monaleen get the better of St. Patrick’s to stave off their relegation play-off fears. St. Patrick’s however are more than capable of putting one over on Monaleen in what promises to be a terrific game in Claughaun.
In the intermediate championship Mungret, thanks to a 0-16 to 1-5 win over Cappamore, face Athea next Sunday at 6.45pm knowing that a win would guarantee them a play-off spot. Na Piarsaigh will be hoping Athea can do them a favour in that tie, but must also beat group leaders Mountcollins in Newcastle West to have any hope of making progress.
Na Piarsaigh drew with Hospital-Herbertstown on Friday night - 2-7 to 1-10.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Niland tackles US Open

LIMERICK’S Conor Niland is preparing to take a bite out of the Big Apple this week when the Irish number one tennis star attempts to qualify for the US Open.
Conor’s prospects are boosted by recent good form which has seen Niland reach the last eight in both Russia and China recently.
Now ranked 156th in the world Niland will be required to win three matches before booking a place in the 128-strong main draw - the qualifying tournament beings on Tuesday while the US Open proper begins next Monday at Flushing Meadows.
And should Conor Niland qualify for the first round proper he will fulfill a personal dream of playing in a Grand Slam event.
The visit to New York will bring back happy memories for the Limerick man. Last year Niland beat Australia’s Joseph Sirianni (6-0, 6-4) and forced his way into the second qualifying round of the US Open - the victory represented the Irish tennis star’s first win in a Grand Slam. Conor then lost to Columbia’s Alejandro Falla, but the Limerick man will hope to re-discover the form which has seen Ireland’s most-capped Davis Cup player win five ITF Futures titles, two Challenger Tour events, reach the main draw of the US Men’s Claycourt Championships and come within a couple of points of qualifying for the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Most spectacularly of all Niland won the Israel Open in Ramat Hasharon in May and duly collected a winner’s cheque for $14,000 - following that win Conor broke into the world’s top 200 and duly became the second highest-ranked player in the history of Irish tennis after Matt Doyle.
Conor Niland will be all the more determined at Flushing Meadows since in this year’s Australian Open he reached the third round of qualifying only to be denied by Brazil’s Ricardo Hocevar in three sets.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Football Board set to tackle management issue

THE Football Board, led by chairman John Galvin and secretary Sean McAuliffe, will this weekend meet with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan and have assured Leader Sport that a decision will be made concerning the management of the senior football team early next week.


Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s fifth year in charge came to an end when the Shannonsiders lost to Cork in the All-Ireland qualifiers at the Gaelic Grounds. O’Sullivan, however, is still considered hot favourite to continue as manager while the roles of minor, under-21 and junior supremo are expected to be filled as soon as the senior post is decided upon.
Leader Sport has also made contact with the Independent Appointments Committee (comprised of Damien Quigley, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Jim Woulfe) which is charged with the task of deciding whether to retain the services of Justin McCarthy or find a successor to the Cork man as Limerick senior hurling manager. Unfortunately, the Independent Appointments Committee are not prepared to comment on or discuss any aspect of their deliberations at this time.
The rumour mill, concerning the appointment process, has switched into overdrive in recent weeks.
One persistent rumour suggested that current Dublin manager Anthony Daly was in the running for the job. Leader Sport contacted the Clare man this week and Anthony Daly has confirmed that no one associated with the Limerick County Board has contacted him with regard to a potential role on Shannonside.
The committee conducted interviews in recent weeks with those nominated for the role while it remains to be seen if Damien Quigley, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Jim Woulfe will pin-point their own candidate.
It is within the remit of the committee to pin-point their own candidate and it is understood that they have identified a number of potential managers. It now looks likely that the Limerick manager may not be ratified at next month’s (September 14) meeting of the County Board.
Nine nominees were originally identified by Limerick clubs. Both John Allen and John Tuohy withdrew from the selection process leaving Dave Keane, Gary Kirby, Ciaran Carey, Leo O’Connor, TJ Ryan, Val Murnane and Justin McCarthy. Once the Independent Appointments Committee have made their decision their nomination will then need to be ratified at a full County Board meeting.
The Independent Appointments Committee has also canvassed the opinions of both the 2009 and 2010 Limerick senior hurling panels when they met with the two panels, separately, in the Charleville Park Hotel in recent weeks.
It is understood that the new manager will be offered a two or three-year term with an annual review. It is also understood that the new manager will appoint a coach, trainer and selectors, but only after consultation with the three-man committee.
While John Kiely will take responsibility for the Limerick hurling development squad (intermediate) in 2011 the under-21 hurling job is still up for grabs. Club nominations should be sent to County Secretary Mike O’Riordan before August 27 next. An appointments committee (Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan, secretary Mike O’Riordan, treasurer Owen Hayes, Na Piarsaigh’s Shane O’Neill and Doon’s John R. Walsh) will interview those nominated.
Meanwhile the current under-17 management team consisting of Adare’s Shane Fitzgibbon (manager) and selectors Mike Galligan, Frankie Carroll, Joe Hannon and George Lee will guide the fortunes of the minor hurlers in 2011.

County League
The All-County senior hurling league final will take place this Saturday evening in the Gaelic Grounds at 6.45pm - Bruree will take on Murroe-Boher in the eagerly-anticipated clash.
Murroe-Boher, considering their excellent form in the senior championship prior to suffering a defeat at the hands of Emmets, will be red-hot favourites to win this one, but Bruree are never easily beaten and will be eager to lay down a marker before they face into a relegation semi-final against Garryspillane.

Brian McDonnell

Stephen Lucey hints at a possible return to the inter-county fold

IN October 2009 Stephen Lucey, although he had played 29 times for the Limerick senior hurling team, was dropped unceremoniously by manager Justin McCarthy. But on Sunday evening last the Croom stalwart admitted that if he could get “injury free” and the management situation was “sorted out” on Shannonside that he would consider returning to the inter-county fold.
After contributing to a discussion on Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final between Tipperary and Waterford in Croke Park on RTÉ Radio One’s Take Your Point phone-in show a text from a listener prompted the presenter, Tipp’s Damien Lawlor, to ask the proud Croom man if would consider playing for the Limerick senior hurling team again.
“I have to get injury free first,” Stephen Lucey said.
“If I’m lucky enough to get picked we’ll see, we’ll see what happens. God knows anything could happen down here (in Limerick).”
Stephen Lucey also admitted that he was impressed by the manner in which the Independent Appointments Committee - comprised of Damien Quigley, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Jim Woulfe - were going about their business. This trio have been entrusted with the task of identifying a manager to succeed Justin McCarthy, or retain the services of the Cork man, and former full-back Stephen Lucey is confident that they “will do the right thing”.
“Well, there’s a three-man committee in place,” Stephen Lucey explained, “and I think they have done great work and they are fairly independent-minded.
“So, I think they will do the right thing. I would be hopeful that they would be fair.”
Limerick’s Stephen Lucey also admitted that the fall-out from Justin McCarthy’s decision to drop the Croom man, among others, had been difficult to deal with on a personal level for the past year.
“Oh God, there was a lot of flak,” Stephen Lucey said.
“There was a lot of stuff that happened this year that I wouldn’t like to go into now, but a lot of hurtful stuff went on. I would just leave it at that.”
Lucey also admitted that he was lucky to have the county senior football team to turn to, but that he felt great sympathy for other players who did not enjoy such a luxury.
“I was lucky with that. It was a great honour (to play with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s senior footballers) and we had a great set-up.
“We were close enough, but I feel very, very, very sorry for the lads that didn’t get to play.
“There’s a load of them there you know; Brian Geary and Seamie Hickey and Wayne McNamara, a load of them there that didn’t get to play.
“You know it was really, really tough for them especially for the championship matches, like Limerick versus Cork and all that.”
Stephen Lucey then concluded the segment by suggesting that he would keep an open mind in relation to potentially playing for the Limerick senior hurling team.
“I just have to get injury free, see if we’re lucky enough to get selected and we’ll take it from there”.
The comments of the former Limerick full-back has once again highlighted the fact that players like Stephen Lucey (who played 29 times for Limerick), Niall Moran (32 times) and Mark Foley (48 times) were never afforded a proper public apology/explanation for how they were treated in October 2009 when they were all dropped from manager Justin McCarthy’s senior hurling panel. Indeed, the fact that other members of the panel like Damien Reale (who played 36 times for Limerick), Brian Geary (37 times), Dónal O’Grady (27 times) and Seámus Hickey (20 times) would walk away in protest suggests that some sort of gesture is due to these players.

Brian McDonnell

Limerick FC face the mighty Derry City

IT just gets better and better for Limerick FC - the Super Blues collected their third successive league success on Friday night thanks to a one-nil win over Mervue United at Terryland Park in Galway, have moved into second place and will now eagerly look forward to taking on leaders Derry City next Friday night at Jackman Park (7.45pm).
Although Limerick FC missed a whole litany of chances against Mervue United they were well worth all three points which arrived courtesy of a Shane Tracy penalty in the 51st minute.
Pat Scully’s men created plenty of goal-scoring chances in the opening half of the game.
Mervue ‘keeper Ger Hanley pulled off a magnificent save to deny Stephen O’Flynn as early as the ninth minute while Hanley was called into action once more six minutes later to save Shane Clarke’s stinging effort.
In the 26th and 27th minutes Stephen O’Flynn came close to breaking the dead-lock once more, but somehow the Mervue United goal remained intact.
Limerick FC almost paid the price for their profligacy in the 30th minute when Mervue’s Rory Gaffney got through one-on-one with Dave Ryan, but Gaffney lobbed his effort over the bar and the Super Blues’ blushes were spared.
Two efforts from Shane Clarke concluded the opening half as Limerick FC retired at the interval wondering what they had to do to score.
The breakthrough finally materialised six minutes into the second half when a blatant push on Shane Clarke presented Limerick with a penalty which Shane Tracy converted. Although Evan Connolly’s volley screamed over the Limerick FC bar in the 60th minute, the Super Blues saw out the remainder of the game in relative comfort.
There was, however, plenty of drama in injury time when Stephen O’Flynn was fouled for a second Limerick penalty and Mervue’s Tommy Walsh got his marching orders - O’Flynn took responsibility for the spot kick, but pulled his effort wide of the goal.
In the wake of the away win Pat Purcell, the 31-year-old club captain and undisputed leader of the team, explained that given Stephen O’Flynn’s determination to score at each and every opportunity for the Super Blues it would not be a good idea to tease the striker about such a miss immediately after the game.
“Stevo takes his goal-scoring far too seriously to give him a slagging in the dressing room after something like that,” Pat Purcell told Leader Sport.
“He was like a bull over it, really. Once he calms down during the week we’ll have a laugh about it, but you couldn’t say anything to him about it straight after the game.”
Although pleased with collecting three more league points Pat Purcell was disappointed with certain aspects of Limerick’s play: “We won, but we didn’t convert all the chances that we created. And, if you do that you can get caught out if you give the other team half a chance. That’s the danger. We’ve got to take our chances and put teams away earlier. You can’t allow teams to stay in a game like that. That was the only disappointing thing, other than that we played very well and it’s another three points in the bag.”
In consecutive league games Limerick FC have now beaten Athlone Town, Shelbourne and most recently Mervue United. And, it’s a measure of how far the Super Blues have come that they will enter Friday night’s game against the runaway league leaders in confident mood.
“We’ll approach it like it’s just another game,” Pat Purcell said.
“We’ve got to make sure that all our work on the training field comes out on the pitch.
“We believe that we’re one of the best teams in the division, but we also know that we’ve no divine right to win games.
“We’re in the position now that we want to be in, we want to make the play-offs, but we’ve got to keep performing, especially in the last ten games.”
The sides have met twice this season - a David McDaid goal helped Derry City to a one-nil win at Jackman Park on March 12 while Limerick FC earned a nil-all draw at the Brandywell on May 21. Derry City’s form has been mixed of late. Last Friday night they lost 0-1 at home to Cork City, a week previously they were beaten 2-3 by Monaghan in Derry.
“It should be an even enough game,” Pat Purcell added.
“Our form has been impressive recently and we have a good chance of getting a result against Derry. We’re not worried about their form; we know they’re top of the division for a reason and they deserve to be respected. But we’re a good side too so it should be a really good game.”
After two seasons blighted by injury Pat Purcell is enjoying his football and a prolonged run in the team.
Last weekend the Clare minor hurlers took on Dublin at Croke Park in an All-Ireland semi-final and that encounter was sure to spark memories in Purcell. In early 1997 Purcell was a member of the Clare minor hurling panel, but withdrew once training clashed with his efforts to play a major part in Park Rangers’ league and cup double. That Clare minor team went on to win All-Ireland honours, but Purcell harbours no sense of regret, he’s 100 per cent happy with the decision he made and now he’s eagerly looking forward to the title run-in with the Super Blues.
Following stints with Park Rangers, Fairview Rangers, St. Patrick’s Athletic, Waterford United and now Limerick FC Pat Purcell knows a thing or two about what means most when league points are at their most precious.
“What we need now is to find a real consistency,” Pat Purcell explained.
“We’ve got to make sure we bring the work we do on the training field onto the pitch. We’ve got to keep performing and if we do that we will be in the shake-up. Our goal all season has been to make the play-offs and for us that’s all that matters. The results are key, but we are capable of getting the results we need.”

Limerick FC v Mervue United: Dave Ryan, Martin Deady, Thomas Heary, David O’Leary, Dave Rogers, Pat Purcell, Bobby Ryan, John Sullivan, Shane Tracy, Shane Clarke, Stephen O’Flynn. Subs: Declan Cahill for David O’Leary, Thomas Lyons for Shane Clarke, Timmy Kiely for Shane Tracy.

Brian McDonnell

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Leamy returns for Munster

LONG-TERM injury victims Denis Leamy, Donnacha Ryan and Ian Dowling have been included in Tony McGahan’s Munster squad for Friday night’s pre-season friendly clash with the Leicester Tigers at Musgrave Park (7pm).
Leamy, Ryan and Dowling join the likes of the recently arrived Sam Tuitupou and the returned Wian du Preez in the 26-strong squad for the meeting with the Premiership giants.


Back-row Denis Leamy has been out of action since undergoing a knee operation in the aftermath of his impressive display against Perpignan in the Heineken Cup in December.
Lock Ryan has been out of action since February following a shoulder operation while Dowling missed the closing games of last season with a knee injury.
All three players participated in Munster’s week-long warm weather training camp in La Manga. The squad returned home from Spain this Tuesday. Coach Tony McGahan said the camp had proved hugely beneficial ahead of the start of the competitive season.
“In terms of preparation the facility in La Manga was excellent and we managed to get in quality core rugby work along with valuable organisational matters,” Munster’s Tony McGahan said this week.
“Leicester Tigers on Friday and (the meeting with) Gloucester (seven days later) provides us with the ideal opponents ahead of the competitive start to the season.
“The game against Leicester on Friday will see the return to action of players such as Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy and Ian Dowling who missed large parts of last season through injury.
“We would also expect to see newcomers Sam Tuitupou and Wian du Preez continue their integration into the squad while the opportunity will also arise to expose some of the young talent coming through to top class opposition,” McGahan explained.
That ‘young talent’ includes the likes of Ian Nagle, Dave Foley, Dave Ryan, Mike Sherry, Peter O’Mahony, who impressed in the British & Irish Cup campaign last season, Ireland Under-20 World Cup players Paddy Butler and Simon Zebo, as well as Academy newcomer Corey Hircock who has recently arrived from Bedford.
Munster v Leicester Tigers, Friday, August 20, Musgrave Park, 7pm.
Munster squad: Denis Hurley, Felix Jones, Ian Dowling, Danny Barnes, Simon Zebo, Scott Deasy, Sam Tuitupou, Corey Hircock, Paul Warwick, Duncan Williams, Conor Murray, Wian du Preez, Dave Ryan, Stephen Archer, Darragh Hurley, Mike Sherry, Denis Fogarty, Billy Holland, Dave Foley, Ian Nagle, Donnacha Ryan, Paddy Butler, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan and Denis Leamy.

Colm Kinsella

Charity Cup set to kick-off club season

THE Limerick Charity Cup is due to commence next week with holders Young Munster set to begin the defence of their title at home to Nenagh Ormond.
Munsters, who are preparing for their return to Division 1A of the All-Ireland League, emerged victorious after the 85th staging of the Limerick Charity Cup last September thanks to a dramatic 11-10 victory over UL-Bohemian at Thomond Park.
A late penalty goal from the boot of out-half Alan Kingsley edged Munsters to victory at the start of a hugely successful season which also saw the Clifford Park side secure ODM Munster Senior Cup success as well as promotion to Division 1A of the league.
Young Munsters Charity Cup quarter-final tie with Nenagh Ormond is pencilled in for Tom Clifford Park on Friday, August 26.
AIL Division 2 side Thomond travel to Kilballyowen Park to face Bruff in the first of the quarter-final fixtures, provisionally scheduled to take place on Thursday, August 26.
Shannon, beaten by Young Munster at the semi-final stage of last season’s competition, make the trip across the city to face Old Crescent in the third of the quarter-finals on Friday, August 27.
Nine-time AIL winners Shannon will be anxious to make a winning start to the season having agonisingly missed out on securing a place in the AIL semi-final play-offs at the end of the regular season.
Opponents Old Crescent showed admirable grit to retain their AIL Division 2 status and the Rosbrien side will be determined to get off to a fast start in the early season competition. The last quarter-final takes place on Wednesday, September 1 when Garryowen host UL Bohs.
The semi-final draw pits the winners’ of the Young Munster/Nenagh Ormond game against the winners of the Garryowen/UL Bohs quarter-final clash.
In the second semi-final, the winners of the Old Crescent/Shannon last eight match take on the winners of the Bruff/Thomond clash.
The semi-finals are due to take place on the weekend of September 4 with the final scheduled to take place a week later.
Meanwhile two all-Limerick ties are among the highlights of the first round draw for the ODM Financial Munster Senior Cup.
Holders Young Munster have been drawn away to city rivals UL-Bohemian, while Bruff host Shannon at Kilballyowen on the weekend of September 25.
Elsewhere, Old Crescent will enjoy home advantage foe their first round clash with Cork’s Midleton while Garryowen travel to Leeside to take on last season’s beaten finalists.
Limerick’s remaining representatives in the cup, Thomond, also face a trip to Cork, this time to face Highfield.
The quarter-finals of the ODM Financial Munster Senior Cup take place on the weekend of November 6, while the semi-finals are due to be played two weeks later.
The final is scheduled to take place on December 19.

Colm Kinsella

Monday, August 16, 2010

Triumphant Na Piarsaigh face Kilmallock in semis

CAHERDAVIN’S Na Pairsaigh have ended Adare’s dominance of the Limerick club hurling scene.
Amid great sunshine and celebrations in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday Na Piarsaigh ended Adare’s quest for four titles in-a-row with a 4-12 to 2-15 victory.
Three second half goals sent the champions crashing out.
But Na Piarsaigh had to save an injury-time penalty as the champions bidded to force a replay.


The quarter-final was a repeat of last year’s county final which Adare won by 17-points.
Na Piarsaigh are looking to add the senior crown to the under-21 premier title they have won already this season and that title was won with a final victory over their semi-final opponents Kilmallock.
Youngs guns Kevin Downes, Shane Dowling and Adrian Breen were among the Na Piarsaigh goalscorers and all three have already collected under-21 medals and Dr. Harty Cup medals with Ardscoil Ris in 2010.
Na Piarsaigh will be hoping that James O’Brien and Adrian Hennessy can see off injuries ahead of their last four contest.
The reward for Na Piarsaigh is a semi-final meeting with favourites Kilmallock. It will be a clash between former Clare senior hurling selectors with Tony Considine managing Kilmallock and Sean Stack coach to Na Piarsaigh.
The second semi-final will be between surprise packets Knockainey and south Limerick divisional side Emmets.
Emmets saw off the challenge of Murroe-Boher yesterday with a 2-23 to 3-13 win. Ten different players got on the scoresheet for Emmets who led by 12 points at one stage.
Aside from Kilmallock (who won it last in 1994) none of the other three have previously won the Daly Cup.
These semi-finals will be fixed by the Limerick GAA CCC this week for weekending September 12.
Elsewhere, after a busy weekend on the local championship front, many of the main championships have reached the semi-final stage.
In the newly-inaugurated County Cup the first round games were played over the weekend and in the semi-finals South Liberties will play Croom while Doon will play Bruff.
The senior hurling relegation battle is now down to four teams.
Claughaun will play Ahane and Garryspillane will play Bruree.
The two losing sides will then play off to determine who drops to the intermediate ranks in 2011.
Meanwhile the battle to see who is promoted from the intermediate championship is dominated by teams from the south division.
Ballybrown are the odd ones out and they play Hospital-Herbertstown in the semi-final. The other semi-final is a local derby between Dromin-Athlacca and Glenroe.
Players from Hospital-Herbertstown, Dromin-Athlacca and Glenroe dominate the Emmets senior team and only time will tell if this is a help or a hindrance since they are chasing glory on two fronts. The intermediate semi-finals will be played on the weekending of September 19.
The relegation battle in the intermdiate grade is down to two teams with Pallasgreen playing Tournafulla with the losing side dropping to the junior ranks next season.
Elsehwhere at the weekend the Limerick Ladies Footballers are within one game of returning to Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.
They booked their place in the semi-finals of the All-Ireland junior championship with a 2-17 to 1-3 win over Derry on Saturday evening.
Last September Limerick lost the final to Antrim but are now just 60-minutes away from another trip to Croker.
Next weekend attention switches to the senior and intermediate football championship with two rounds of action still to be played before the knock-out stages are confirmed.

JEROME O’CONNELL

Castletroy student claims silver at European Championship

WEXFORD athlete Gráinne Murphy, who attends Castletroy College and trains in the University of Limerick, won a silver medal at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Saturday.


The 17-year-old Irish swimming sensation knocked eight seconds off the Irish record in the 1500m freestyle final finishing second to Denmark’s Lottie Friis in a time of 16.02.29, cutting a further eight seconds off the Irish record set in the heats, the second fastest time in the world this year. Gráinne Murphy is the first Irish swimmer to win a medal at the European Championships since Michelle Smith de Bruin proved successful at the championship 13 years ago.
“I just kept focusing on my own race. I didn’t allow my head to wander into any of the others lanes to see what they were doing,” said a very relaxed Murphy after the race.
“I took a different approach to my race today as I did in the heats yesterday after discussing race tactics with my coach Ronald and it really paid off. It felt amazing to win a medal at this kind of meet and standing on the podium beside Lotte Friis just felt brilliant!”
Grainne Murphy’s training regime at Swim Ireland’s University of Limerick High Performance Centre is under the guidance of coach Ronald Claes and is supported by Swim Ireland and the Irish Sports Council.
On Friday Gráinne Murphy knocked an astonishing 18 seconds off her own Irish record in the heats of the demanding 1,500 metres freestyle event.
Gráinne’s time of 16.10.32 placed the 17-year-old Wexford girl as the fastest qualifier by two and a half seconds and raised Irish hopes of winning a precious medal.
Gráinne showed no ill effects from her swim in the 800 metre freestyle final on Thursday when she narrowly missed out on the bronze medal by just five-hundredths of a second. Gráinne finished her 16 lengths of the pool in a world-class time of 8.25.04, a time which rewrote the Irish record books and indeed lowered the Irish senior record by almost four seconds - an 11-second improvement that the young swimmer made to the record since she arrived in Budapest.
Gráinne began her week at the European Swimming Championships with a seventh place finish in the 400 metre individual medley on Monday.

BRIAN MCDONNELL

Munster prepare to take on the Tigers

THE Munster rugby squad is due to return home from their week-long warm weather training camp in La Manga tomorrow as preparations continue for Friday night’s pre-season friendly clash with the Leicester Tigers.
Since their arrival in Spain on Tuesday last the 44-strong squad have been getting in two pitch sessions each day plus one gym session in ideal conditions at a facility which Munster coach Tony McGahan has described as ‘top class’.
Each day of the seven day training camp has begun for the management with a 7.30am meeting, followed by breakfast and onto the pitch by 9.30am.
Later the players engage in a gym, an early evening pitch session as well as various organisational sessions. The day concludes for the players with swimming pool recovery at 6.30pm.
Munster’s field sessions have proved extremely popular with holidaymakers with large crowds turning up to watch them being put through their paces. The 1400-acre La Manga resort is located near Murcia in southern Spain, in a region known as the Costa Cálida, or ‘warm coast’, thanks to its mild, year-round Mediterranean climate.
The Munster squad is due to arrive home tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.
Munster face the Leicester Tigers in the first of two pre-season friendlies at Musgrave Park this Friday night at 7pm.
Munster also take on Gloucester in a second fixture at Musgrave Park seven days later.
Munster will play seven of their 11 home Magners League fixtures this season at Thomond Park
The 2009 Magners League winners Munster will face Italian newcomers Aironi at Musgrave Park in their opening fixture in the competition on Saturday, September 4 at 7.30pm.
Munster’s second home game in the League, a glamour tie with the reigning champions, the Ospreys on Saturday, September 18 will be staged at Thomond Park at 8pm.
Each of Munster’s three home fixtures against the remaining Irish provinces will, once again, be staged at Thomond Park.
These fixtures include the tie against Ulster on New Year’s Day, the eagerly-awaited meeting with arch rivals Leinster on April 1-3, 2011 and the final home game in the competition’s regular season when Connacht are the visitors on the weekend of May 6-8.
Munster will play four of their home Magners League fixtures next season in Musgrave Park.

COLM KINSELLA

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Moves made to establish hurling board

THE first official moves have taken place towards the setting up of a separate Hurling Board in Limerick GAA.
Last week representatives of the new break-away group met with the officers of the County Board for the first time.
A 16-man committee are behind the plans to establish the new Hurling Board - four representatives from clubs from each of the four divisions.
This group have met in recent weeks to formulate their ideas and then requested a meeting with the officers of the County Board.
Last week a delegation from the break-away group got their opportunity to put their case to the Limerick GAA hierarchy.
However, there was no mention of that meeting revealed to club delegates at this Tuesday night’s August monthly meeting of the County Board.
And, Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan declined to comment to Leader Sport about the meeting between the two parties.


The break-away group contains a number of high-profile figures within Limerick hurling - including past and present high-ranking officials, former inter-county hurlers and footballers and former members of inter-county management teams at varying levels from senior downwards.
The next moves of the County Board or the break-away group are unknown. However, if a Hurling Board is to be established a motion will need to be put before Annual Convention in December.
It is understood that the intentions of those behind the Hurling Board are to “run” all aspects of Limerick hurling - including fund-raising.
Surprisingly, there was no mention of either the recruitment process for the Limerick senior hurling manager or the Limerick senior football manager positions at this week’s County Board meeting.
There were plenty opportunities for club delegates to ask questions during the two-hour meeting in Claughaun, but nothing was asked in relation to the two on-going management searches.
It appears Mickey Ned O’Sullivan is in pole position to remain in possession of the football bainisteoir bib for a sixth season, but the hurling role is very much up in the air.
The three-man Independent Appointments Committee conducted interviews this week with some of those nominated by the clubs of Limerick.
However, there is a strong belief throughout the county that Damien Quigley, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Jim Woulfe could yet pin-point their own candidate.
Elsewhere, this week, John Kiely was ratified for another term as manager of the Limerick Hurling Development Squad (intermediate). Kiely will once again have three selectors- Leo O’Connor, Robert O’Dea and Richard Lanigan with Oliver Mann acting as liaison officer.
The role of under-21 hurling manager is now up for grabs.
As the two-year term of Leo O’Connor has ended, nominations are now open for a new manager. Club nominations should be sent to County Secretary Mike O’Riordan by August 27.
An appointments committee was selected at this week’s County Board meeting to interview those nominated. The five-man committee consists of Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan, Limerick GAA secretary Mike O’Riordan, Limerick GAA treasurer Owen Hayes, former Limerick hurler Shane O’Neill (Na Piarsaigh) and John R. Walsh (Doon).
It appears that there will be no necessity for an appointments committee to fill the minor hurling management. With Ger Hegarty’s term now ended the preferred choice is for the current under-17 management team to assume the role with the panel of players that they have coached in recent years.
Adare’s Shane Fitzgibbon is current under-17 manager and is assisted by Mike Galligan, Frankie Carroll, Joe Hannon and George Lee.

Jerome O’Connell

Monday, August 09, 2010

Willie Casey sets his sights on a European title shot

LIMERICK pro-boxer Willie Casey has his sights set on a European title fight after he extended his record to ten wins from ten bouts.

The 28-year-old Southill man has moved up to number nine in the Euro rankings following Saturday’s win over Italian Emiliano Salvini in an eight round super bantamweight contest when he headlined a Dolphil Promotions event in Dublin’s CityWest Hotel Complex.
Now the married father of four wants a title shot against either Barnard Dunne’s conqueror Kiko Martinez or Arsen Martirosyan who clash for the vacant European title in Dublin’s National Stadium on September 11.
“I am going after which ever one wins between Martinez and Martirosyan.
“I want that European title now and they have no excuses. I’m ranked number nine in Europe so they can’t avoid me,” declared Casey after referee Emile Tiedt scored Casey a comfortable 80-72 winner.
“Will I beat either of them? It’s all on the performance on the night.
“If I fight like that ever time then no one if going to keep up with me,” said Casey.
Next up for Casey could be a September 18 contest in the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
A former Irish intermediate featherweight champion Casey is a former member of Our Lady of St. Saviour Boxing Club.
Casey’s opponents on Saturday had fought for the EBU bantamweight title last November and Saturday’s contest was regarded as a European title eliminator by Casey’s management of former Olympian and double European championship bronze medal winner Phil Sutcliffe and Don O’Leary.
As well as winning Sky TV’s Prizefighter Series in May, Casey has already fought three times in 2010.
“He was a very experienced guy and very tough, but that was exactly what I wanted,” said Willie Casey of Saturday’s Italian opponent.
“I wanted him to bring out the best in me. I could have rushed myself and tried to finish it, but I didn’t. I paced myself, relaxed myself and let the power and the shots come. I caught him with a lot of big bangs and he still survived. It was a great eight rounds - eight rounds for Kiko Martinez,” said a confident Casey.
“I did enough to win each round. I didn’t have to go all out with him. There were one of two occasions when I saw the finish and I still didn’t go after it because he was coming back with his own shots after he got caught so I had to be careful as well.
“I caught him with a few big bangs over the top, but I never followed up on the big shots. I just kept my pace and it was working for me. I didn’t need to work more,” Casey recalled of the fight.
Fresh from soaring to new heights in the boxing rankings Casey will set a world record next Saturday when he takes part in a novel fund-raising event when he participates in a most unusual boxing exhibition on top of Ireland’s highest peak Carrauntuohil in Kerry.
Casey is just one of the Irish sporting stars that are confirmed for the fund-raiser for Battens Disease - a rare neuro-degenerative fatal condition which affects babies and young children.
A boxing ring is to be airlifted to the summit via helicopter for the ‘Boxing for Battens’ event which hopes to raise funds for the treatment of Irish patients in the US.
Further information is available on www.beeforbattens.org and donations can be made via any AIB with account number 06040095 and sort code 93-63-24.
Meanwhile on the undercard in Dublin on Saturday night Limerick-based Galwegian Alan Donnellan won his second pro-fight.
Donnellan, who made his debut in May in the Yanjing Night Fight in the UL Arena, is coached by Ken Moore.
The LIT graduate in quantity surveying is a member of St. Francis Boxing Club and is coach to the LIT Boxing Society.
Donnellan was a convincing points winner over Lester Walsh of Scotland in a middleweight contest.

JEROME O’CONNELL

Determined Knockainey send Patrickswell packing

EIGHTEEN times county senior hurling champions Patrickswell were sent packing from the 2010 championship yesterday by minnows Knockainey.
In the quarter-final of the Limerick’s Live 95FM sponsored county senior hurling championship Knockainey produced a thrilling 2-15 to 1-13 win over The ‘Well in a sun-drenched Gaelic Grounds.
In their ninth season since becoming a senior club Knockainey have now reached their second semi-final. Back in 2004 the All-Blacks also shocked Patrickswell who were then the defending county champions.
Knockainey now await the semi-final draw which will take place next Sunday evening after the second of the quarter-final double-bills in the Gaelic Grounds.
Next Sunday will also see a repeat of last year’s county final when Adare play Na Piarsaigh and in the curtain-raiser Murroe-Boher will play divisional side Emmets of south Limerick.
Yesterday Knockainey had two Patrick Kirby goals either side of half-time to thank for their shock result.
The Gary Kirby-managed Patrickswell were over-reliant on the free-taking of former Limerick goalkeeper Brian Murray.
The 2007 All-Star net-minder lined out at wing forward and contributed all bar four points of his side’s total.
Knockainey had heroes all over the field with Padraic Barron helping himself to four points and Liam O’Shea recording three of his own.
In the first game at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday Kilmallock were convincing 4-18 to 0-8 winners over Granagh-Ballingarry in a one-sided quarter-final.
Managed by former Clare senior hurling boss Tony Considine Kilmallock had match winners in the Mulcahy brothers, Graeme and Jake. Between them the corner forwards contributed 4-6 of the winner’s final tally.
Meanwhile in round three of the county senior football championship Monaleen won the bragging rights in their city derby against Claughaun.
In a low-scoring contest a late fisted goal from sub John Paul Strokes edged Monaleen to a 2-3 to 1-4 win.
The Castletroy side had led 1-1 to 0-3 at half-time when Eoin Keating goaled from a penalty.
Jamie Richardson had Claughaun ahead when he converted from the penalty spot in the second half, but Stokes’ goal sealed the win for Monaleen.
Elsewhere there was no giant-killing victory for St. Patrick’s when they faced back-to-back champions Dromcolllogher-Broadford.
Two goals from Limerick senior football captain Seanie Buckley went the champions on their way to a 3-14 to 1-12 win against a St. Pat’s side that are in their first season back in the top flight of Limerick club football.
Adare remain on course for a unique double. Next Sunday they play in the hurling quarter-final and are now on track for a place in the football knockout stages after their 1-11 to 0-10 over Ballylanders.
With two rounds of the group stages to be played last season’s beaten finalists Fr. Casey’s remain on track for a place in the knock-out stages following a 0-16 to 0-7 win over Pallasgreen.
Another team on track for the quarter-finals are St. Senan’s who were 1-14 to 1-9 winners over Newcastle West last evening in Askeaton.
The winners had six points from county star Ian Ryan in their second half performance after the sides were dead-locked at the interval.
Also last evening there was a shock in Newcastle West when Limerick midfielder Jim O’Donovan scored two goals to guide St. Kieran’s to a 2-8 to 0-13 win over last season’s semi-finalists Ballysteen.

JEROME O’CONNELL

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Galvin urges Mickey Ned to stick with the Shannonsiders

LIMERICK football supremo John Galvin has urged Mickey Ned O’Sullivan to continue at the helm for another term.


The towering midfielder has confirmed that he won’t be retiring from the inter-county scene and urged manager Mickey Ned and coach Donie Buckley to remain in charge of the Shannonsiders.
This Wednesday night the August monthly meeting of the Limerick Football Committee was to take place in the Woodlands House Hotel in Adare and the position of Limerick senior football manager was to be discussed, but without making any final decision.
“I am going to give it one more lash,” confirmed John Galvin who made his Limerick senior football debut in 1999.
“I hope we are all back again the same next year.
“I know that no decision is made yet and the County Board are probably waiting for Mickey Ned and Donie to decide on their future first,” said the Croom man.
The debate surrounding the future of Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as Limerick senior football manager was opened after the heartbreaking end to the 2010 season against Cork in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
O’Sullivan and his management team had their term extended by one further season last autumn and that term has now expired.
Kerry’s 1975 All-Ireland winning captain is one of the longest serving inter-county football managers along with Mickey Harte in Tyrone and Monaghan’s Seamus McEnaney whose future is also in the balance after their qualifier loss to Kildare.
O’Sullivan was appointed Limerick manager in succession to Liam Kearns in the aftermath of the 2005 inter-county season.
“We have a management team involving about 11 people and it’s going to be a collective decision,” said Mickey Ned O’Sullivan this week.
“Our term is up and it’s up to the County Board as to whoever they appoint. We have to discuss within ourselves whether we are going forward and we also want to talk to the players and the County Board.”
He added: “At the moment it’s all up in the air.
“The graph is still on the way up with this Limerick team,” John Galvin.
O’Sullivan paid tribute to John Galvin and said that his decision not to retire was key.
“Going forward John is vital for this young Limerick team because he is the spiritual leader both on and off the field and he is a vital cog,” said the manager who has served five years at the helm.

Jerome O’Connell

Allen and Tuohy withdraw their names from the race to become Limerick hurling manager

THE new Limerick senior hurling manager will not be ratified at next Tuesday’s August monthly meeting of the County Board.


It is understood that the three-man Independent Appointments Committee are to commence interviews in the coming days, but it is not known how many candidates they have selected to meet in-person.
However, a nomination will not be ready to be put before the club delegates next Tuesday night when they gather in Claughaun GAA clubhouse.
A special County Board meeting could be called in the coming weeks to ratify the selected candidate as after Tuesday the next scheduled County Board meeting is September 14 - after the semi-finals of the county senior hurling championship and the new county cup.
While nine nominees were identified by the GAA clubs of Limerick two won’t be going forward for interview. Both John Allen and John Tuohy have withdrawn their names from the race
“I am not letting my name go forward,” Cork’s 2005 All-Ireland winning manager John Allen told Leader Sport as he ruled himself out of the running to become the new Limerick senior hurling manager.
“I was contacted by the Feohanagh club,” he confirmed.
“I was just told that my name was going forward, but that is very distinct from asking me if I was interested,” explained John Allen.
Allen was one of nine candidates that was initially submitted.
Limerick GAA clubs were asked to check the intentions of their nominees in advance, but it is not known if all clubs corresponded with their preference for manager in advance of submitting their names to County Secretary Mike O’Riordan.
However, the three-man Independent Appointments Committee, tasked with finding a Limerick hurling manager for 2011 could yet ignore all nominees submitted by Limerick GAA clubs.
It is within the remit of the committee to pinpoint their own candidate and it is understood that they have identified a number of potential managers some with previous All-Ireland winning experience. The names of both Donal O’Grady of Cork and Anthony Daly of Clare are two of the more prominent ‘outside’ names that are top of the rumour mill.
While the names of all nominees have been passed to the Independent Appointments Committee, they do not have to interview all those suggested by the clubs. When the committee was announced it was confirmed that Damien Quigley (Na Piarsaigh), Paudie Fitzmaurice (Killeedy) and current CEO of Dairygold Co-op Jim Woulfe were not restricted to names nominated by clubs.
Of the seven nominees that remain former manager Dave Keane and former coach Gary Kirby appear top of the list, unless the Independent Appointments Committee decide it best to extend Justin McCarthy’s tenure. Both Ciaran Carey and Leo O’Connor only have limited experience as Limerick under-21 managers and brief club management roles. Val Murnane also has limited management experience and is more noted as a coach while TJ Ryan is new to the management game after his retirement from his native Garryspillane.
The Independent Appointments Committee are looking to make a nomination for the position of Limerick senior hurling manager and their choice will then need to be ratified by a full County Board meeting.
It is understood that the new manager is to be offered a two or three-year term with an annual review.
The manager would appoint his coach, trainer and selectors in consultation with the Independent Appointments Committee.
It is understood that the Independent Appointments Committee have canvassed the opinions of both the 2009 and 2010 Limerick senior hurling panels when they met with the two panels, separately, in The Charleville Park Hotel last week.
While any reference to the senior management position is not expected at next Tuesday’s County Board meeting in Claughaun, the agenda includes a discussion on the 2010 county intermediate, under-21 and minor managements. The three out-going managers are John Kiely, Leo O’Connor and Ger Hegarty.

Jerome O’Connell