Tipperary rocked by loss of three top young stars

Tipperary rocked by loss of three top young stars
Liam Kearns pictured with players in January 2016.

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns is reeling from the news that he will be without three of his top young stars for the Munster and All-Ireland senior football championship campaigns, writes Jackie Cahill.

Liam Casey, Jason Lonergan and Kevin Fahey have informed Kearns that they will be spending the summer months in the United States.

Jason Lonergan (left) in action for Clonmel Commercials.
Jason Lonergan (left) in action for Clonmel Commercials.

The trio won EirGrid Munster U21 medals in 2015 and played in the All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone last May.

Clonmel Commercials duo Lonergan and Fahey were county and Munster senior club medallists last year and Casey won a Sigerson Cup medal with UCD in February.

Lonergan and Fahey were key players for Tipperary when they won the All-Ireland minor football title in 2011 and, along with Casey, were expected to be automatic starters against Waterford in the Munster SFC quarter-final at Fraher Field later this month.

But the three players informed Kearns after the Allianz League campaign that would be unavailable for the championship.

Kearns admitted: “It’s an issue for counties now. They have to ask themselves if it’s investing time, effort and money into players if they’re going to walk away when the summer comes to go to America.

“They’ll have to sit down and talk to the players at the start of the year. Ask them the question: ‘Are you going to America or can you guarantee that you’re going to be around?’

“Stronger counties can do that, even middle of the road counties, but for the weaker counties, there’s a huge issue there.”

It’s been a difficult campaign for Kearns, who is preparing for the Waterford game without eleven players who featured against the same opposition in the 2015 provincial quarter-final at Semple Stadium.

Kearns added: “The problem for us if that we didn’t just lose one top class young player at the start of the year, we lost three, two to hurling (Steven O’Brien and Seamus Kennedy) and one to Australia (Colin O’Riordan).”

Kearns is also without experienced pair Paddy Codd and Barry Grogan, who haven’t committed to the panel this year, and an unprecedented injury crisis hit the Tipp squad earlier in the year.

And Kearns confirmed that he’s now planning without Casey, Lonergan and Fahey for the remainder of the season.

He said: “They’re gone from us for the last number of weeks.

“We were drawing up a championship panel after the League and they told us that they were going to America.

“It’s disappointing but I do understand that young fellas have a window of opportunity to go abroad.

“Unfortunately for us, they’re three players we’ve invested time and effort in during the League.”

Another of Tipp’s 2015 U21 heroes, Ross Mulcahy, was also tipped for a senior call-up once he had returned from injury but the Moyle Rovers player is also heading to America for the summer.

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