Counties must plan without club stars

Limerick’s John Kiely and Cork’s Ronan McCarthy are among those inter-county managers who may not be able to field players from their senior county championship-winning clubs in this year’s Allianz Leagues.

Ronan McCarthy is minus a sizeable group of Nemo players, including outgoing captain Paul Kerrigan, until at least round four of the league campaign.

Kiely named 10 Na Piarsaigh hurlers in his provisional 2018 panel — Shane Dowling, Alan Dempsey, David Dempsey, Ronan Lynch, Mike Casey, Peter Casey, William O’Donoghue, Thomas Grimes, Conor Boylan, and Kevin Downes — while McCarthy is sure to consider a number of Nemo Rangers players, including outgoing captain Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly, Barry O’Driscoll, and Stephen Cronin.

The condensed league schedule this year means the hurling league proper concludes on March 4 — 13 days before the All-Ireland senior club hurling final. The club football decider on the same day is only seven days short of the final round of the league.

Calls for a calendar year season are sure to grow as counties are deprived of some of their best players for what could turn out to be more than half their competitive game schedule for 2018.

Here we analyse the situations facing Kiely, McCarthy, and others managers including those in Armagh, Derry, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, London, Mayo, Roscommon, and Wexford:

FOOTBALL

Senior semi-finals

Nemo Rangers v Slaughtneil, February 24.

Moorefield v Fulham Irish/Corofin (January 21), February 17.

Ronan McCarthy is minus a sizeable group of Nemo players until at least round four of their Division 2 campaign.

Should they prevail against Slaughtneil (who have six players in the Derry squad) then players such as Kerrigan and Connolly might not be back until the final round of the league on March 25.

The same difficulties face Cian O’Neill who decided not to announce which Moorefield players he will be calling up, Kevin Walsh in Galway (Liam Silke, Micheál Lundy, Michael, Farragher and Ian Burke to name but four are out of his reach right now).

Daithí Burke may line out for the hurlers regardless of Corofin’s pursuit of club glory.

Although all of London’s games are at home this spring, the uncertainty surrounding the Fulham Irish players is far from ideal for Ciaran Deely although few from the club were involved last season.

Intermediate semi-finals

An Ghaeltacht v Moy Tír na nÓg, January 21.

Michael Glaveys v Kilanerin, January 21.

Should An Ghaeltacht beat Moy on Sunday week and it won’t be until the middle of next month that Éamonn Fitzmaurice can start to factor the likes of Brian Ó Beaglaoich and others into his plans.

Moy’s Colm Cavanagh is one who Mickey Harte is loathe to do without but he must until their interests are finished in the competition.

New Wexford manager Paul McLoughlin won’t get his hands on any Kilanerin players just yet, while Kevin McStay must wait for Caoilean Fitzmaurice, Conor Hussey, and Gary Patterson.

HURLING

Senior semi-finals

Na Piarsaigh v Slaughtneil, February 10.

Liam Mellows v Cuala, February 10.

Na Piarsaigh make up almost a quarter of Kiely’s initial 38-man panel.

Should the Caherdavin side reach a second final in three years, there’s a strong possibility none of them will play for Limerick in the league as the Division 1 final takes place seven days after St Patrick’s Day.

Pat Gilroy faces a similar difficulty if Cuala make their second successive decider as he will be without several players he has yet to see in a Dublin jersey, and Jim Gavin could again be without Con O’Callaghan for the spring.

Liam Mellows had no representatives on the Galway panel last year but Micheál Donoghue will surely be interested in calling up two or three now, while Derry’s hurling panel is almost as much in limbo as their football colleagues because of Slaughtneil’s continuing success.

Intermediate semi-finals

Tooreen v St Patrick’s Ballyragget, January 20.

Kanturk v Middletown Na Fianna, January 21.

Both Kanturk and Ballyragget are fancied to win through to the February 3 final, It means John Meyler will likely have to do without Anthony Nash and Lorcán McLoughlin for the opening two rounds.

Aidan Walsh may be unavailable to McCarthy for an extra round as the footballers are out the weekend following the intermediate hurling final.

Brian Cody won’t consider the likes of Kevin Kelly until such time at St Patricks’ interest in the competition is over.

A February 18 return date looks most likely.

Armagh and Mayo’s early hopes in their respective Division 2B campaigns are likely to be affected regardless of their clubs’ fate next weekend.


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