Hehir faces race against time to find US player

TOM HEHIR, the Burger King Limerick Coach, faces a race against time in a bid to sign an American before tomorrow night’s ESB SuperLeague clash with Waterford Crystal at the University Arena.

It was been a turbulent time for Hehir who could only watch helplessly as his bench collapsed when he should have been reaping the fruits of a strong under-age programme developed over the years.

Robert Lynch went to Tralee, some of the fringe players called it a day, their Bosman returned to Australia and his Americans went their separate ways.

And now he finds himself without an American for tomorrow’s second round game.

Wesley Fluellen, his 6’4” import from Pennsylvania, got homesick and then Randy Fletcher picked up a hernia problem and will be out for some time.

Both played against UCC Mardyke Demons last weekend but could only manage six and eight points.

“It’s very disappointing,” Hehir admitted yesterday. “The most heartbreaking thing is to lose players you have brought through as 11 and 12- year-olds.

“You help these guys develop, and then, when you should be about to reap the benefits, sometimes they leave.

“But that is always going to be a problem. There comes a time when players can get too big for the club. Unfortunately, no matter what, they are never going to be entirely happy and if they are not happy you are not going to get the best out of them. But I seem to spend my whole life team building and rebuilding.”

He is the supreme optimist, however, and remains confident about tomorrow night’s game: “Things can change in 24 hours and I am chasing a couple of Americans who don’t have contracts.

"Hopefully that will work out. And, despite the setbacks, there is a lot of enthusiasm within the club. I have a couple of new guys. Paul Freeman is playing very well and Kevin O’Connor, who captained the Irish under-15 team one time, is back.

“He has a bit to go still but he is a decent prospect,” he said.

“Liam Farrell, a 6’4” Irish/Canadian, is quite young but is playing very well and the other guys are very enthusiastic.”

Waterford Crystal, who lost in Tralee last weekend, will be a tough nut to crack and David Cunningham, who injured an ankle in training this week, is the only concern for Coach Michael Evans.

Still smarting from a two-point loss to Neptune in last weekend’s thriller at the INEC in Killarney, Gleneagle Lakers, travel to Cork on Sunday to play Mardyke UCC Demons at the Mardyke Arena.

Demons’ coach, Pat Price, and his wife, Michelle, became parents of a baby daughter earlier this week so it is celebration time in the camp.

Lakers’ coach, Mark Scannell, will not want to spoil the party but the astute Corkman, who has played with all the big National League sides in Cork, badly wants the spoils from this game.

He has made a new change with Keith Friel replacing Zack Frey, who has returned to the US.

And, in what is a big weekend for Cork fans, defending champions Neptune will be entertaining Horans Health Store Tigers at Neptune Stadium tomorrow night. This is set to be another thriller as Tralee, who did not play to their potential but still won against Crystal last weekend, face one of their biggest tests of the season.

Vienna Woods Glanmire face another interesting assignment in the ESB Women’s SuperLeague tomorrow night when they entertain Bausch & Lomb Wildcats at Little Island.

The home side, under the direction of new coach, Sean O’Regan, are still promising much in a competition likely to be dominated by UL. They could be without Deirdre Leahy who is being treated for a knee injury.

Last weekend they lost to Scruffy’s St Paul’s who had Lynn Jones injured in a clash with Adriana Jones.

They could struggle without her against Killester, who will be introducing Shannon Reid.

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