The All-Ireland champions, who take on Wexford in the last qualifying game in the Allianz NHL at Nowlan Park on Sunday, have made just two enforced changes from the side that clipped Cork’s wings last weekend.
PJ Ryan from the Fenians club takes over in goal from James McGarry, who damaged ankle ligaments near the end of the Cork game. Right corner back Michael Kavanagh, who broke a finger in that game, is also ruled out and will be replaced by James Ryall.
Wexford, who were due to name their side last night have postponed selection for a further 24-hours to give their injured players Adrian Fenlon, Dave Quiney, Colm Kehoe and Darren Stamp more time to recover.
Definely out of the Wexford equation however, is full back David O’Connor who has been released as he is sitting examinations in UCD on Monday.
Only five of those who assisted Limerick in their four-point win over Laois in the Allianz NHL last Sunday are asked to turn up for this week-ends final outing against Dublin, in Kilmallock.
They are the Moran brothers, Ollie and Niall, Donnacha Sheehan, Paudie O’Dwyer and TJ Ryan. Explained manager Dave Keane: “This is the opportune time to give our fringe players the chance to impress. We used more or less the same squad of players in our five previous outings and I am sure those who patiently sat it out on the bench will be glad of the chance to show they have something to offer.”
Interestingly, Stephen Lucey has been named at centre back. The Croom man has not figured so far this season because of injury. Pat Kirby, who will play for St Colman’s in the All-Ireland colleges final on Saturday, is also chosen.
Meanwhile Limerick, football manager Liam Kearns has requested Croke Park be opened to his players on Saturday for a training session so as they can familiarise themselves with the surroundings in the lead up to their Division 2 final against Westmeath on May 4.
The last time Limerick played a football final at Croke Park was 85 years ago, against Dublin in the Junior All-Ireland final.
Their most recent visit was in 1973, when Dublin provided the opposition in the NFL.
There is mixed news for Laois hurling boss Paidi Butler this week. While Paul Cuddy is expected to make a swift return from the problem that forced him to leave the field early against Limerick on Monday, his brother David will not be back for their Leinster Championship opener on May 5th.
Centre-back and captain, Paul, hobbled off with a foot injury during the defeat to the Shannonsiders in Portlaoise on Monday and there were initial fears he could be out for a considerable period of time.
However, further examination of the problem revealed that the county captain had merely suffered a cracked toe during the Easter Monday contest which should heal in time to allow him feature against Wicklow in their first championship outing on May 5.
Laois wouldn’t expect to be troubled by Wicklow, with or without Paul, but Butler will be anxious to start his favoured first 15 prior to the game against Meath only a week later. Michael Duignan’s Royals shocked Laois in last year’s championship and, as a result, they won’t be taken lightly.
Less encouraging is the news that Paul’s brother, David, is still three to four weeks away from a return to action after he broke a finger in the encouraging 3-14 to 1-8 league win over Dublin in late March.
David will almost certainly miss the Wicklow tie and faces a race against time to play in the Meath game should Laois win, as expected, a week earlier.
David has been Laois’ attacking talisman ever since making his debut against Wexford back in 1994, although he has been used at both midfield and full-forward by Butler in an attempt to discover where he would be more effective for his side.
His extended lay-off will make it even more difficult for the team management to decide on his most effective role for the summer, but selector John Delaney isn’t overly-concerned about that as of yet.
“Paul should be back for the Wicklow game alright but David is out for up to another month. We haven’t done too bad without him and we’ll just get on with it for now. We’re playing some good hurling and that’s the most encouraging thing at the moment,” he said.
Tyrone attackers Stephen O’Neill and Brian McGuigan have given manager Mickey Harte a massive boost ahead of next week’s Allianz NFL final against Laois.
Both came through midweek club games with a clean bill of health following injury scares. O’Neill, who was carried off in the closing stages of last Sunday’s NFL semi-final win over Fermanagh with a leg injury, was a goal-scorer in Clan na nGael’s league draw with Trillick.
McGuigan, who has missed Tyrone’s last two games with an Achilles injury, scored two points as Ardboe defeated Aghyaran. Harte will not rest easy until he checks on the fitness of his players following another full round of league games on Friday evening.
Sunday’s scheduled programme of club ties has been curtailed, with games involving county players postponed.
LIMERICK (SH v Dublin): D. Bulfin; S.McDonogh, TJ Ryan, M. Cahill, P. O’Dwyer, S. Lucey, Maurice O’Brien, J. Meskell, R. Hayes; Michael O’Brien, N. Moran, J.O’Brien, P. Kirby, O. Moran, S. Sheehan.
KILKENNY (SH v Wexford): P. J. Ryan; J. Ryall, N. Hickey, P. Larkin; R. Mullally, P. Barry, J. J. Delaney; D. Lyng, P. Tennyson; M. Comerford, H. Shefflin, T. Walsh; D. J. Carrey, C. Phelan, E. Brennan.