Leahy may play through pain barrier for Mullinahone

DESPITE an ongoing knee problem, Allstar John Leahy could be tempted to make a dramatic return for his club Mullinahone’s semi-final clash with Toomevara in the Tipperary county senior hurling championship at Thurles tomorrow.

Mullinahone coach Leahy played full-forward during the mid-Tipperary championship after surgery on his damaged knee. But the injury came back to haunt him after the divisional final and he was forced to miss last Sunday’s county quarter-final victory over Roscrea.

However, with so much at stake against the reigning champions, Leahy might gamble on his fitness.

Toomevara, who defeated Ballingarry in the quarter-final last weekend, will be without Tipperary senior Paddy O’Brien and sterling centre-back Tony Delaney. Versatile forward O’Brien is ruled out with a groin injury, while Delaney is serving a 12-month suspension for an altercation with a referee.

Both will be big losses to the champions, who this season are seeking to inscribe their name on the title for the fifth successive occasion, an historic feat twice recorded by Thurles Sarsfields (1956-1960) and (1961-1965).

Mullinahone have never won the county. They were defeated in the final by Clonoulty/Rossmore in the 1997 decider, when Leahy was at the peak of his spectacular powers.

However, with such talented young hurlers as Brian O’Meara, Paul Curran, Pat Croke, and brothers Paul and Eoin Kelly in their side, many feel that it will not be long before Mullinahone reach the Promised Land for the first time.

But the vastly-experienced Toomevara side, led by brothers Tommy, Benny, Terry and Ken Dunne, will be in no mood to relinquish the title.

This 3pm clash and will be preceded by the quarter-final clash of Killenaule and Loughmore/Castleinney at 1.30pm.

Loughmore have been hit by injuries going into their game. Tipperary midfielder Noel Morris is out after breaking a bone in his leg, while intercounty colleague Paul Ormonde is due to undergo a groin operation. However, Loughmore are keeping their fingers crossed that Ormonde will make the starting line-up.

Killenaule, led by former Tipp defender Paul Shelley at full-forward, have been successful in underage competitions, and players like Declan Fanning, Joe Caesar and Tony Doyle have represented the county with distinction at minor and under-21 levels.

They will also be boosted by the return of John O’Dwyer, who won an Ulster senior championship medal with Derry. But the good money will be on Loughmore, despite injuries, to progress to a semi-final against Thurles Sarsfields.

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