Injuries have robbed the team of Seamus Moynihan, Darragh Ó Sé, Colm Cooper (Kerry), Declan Browne (Tipperary), while Cork’s Anthony Lynch stayed on in Australia for a holiday and isn’t due back until the day of the game.
Others available for selection are Ireland International Rules captain Graham Canty, Derek Kavanagh, Alan Cronin, Kevin O’Dwyer (Cork); Tomás Ó Sé, Mike McCarthy (Kerry); Jason Stokes, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Lucey, Muiris Gavin (Limerick); Fergal O’Callaghan (Tipperary) and Conor Whelan (Clare).
Team selector Seamus McCarthy said it has been extremely difficult to get a squad together for a variety of reasons, but added that those available are in reasonable condition and eager to play.
Connacht manager John O’Mahony will be without the Meehan brothers, Declan and Michael. Their club Caltra have requested that the players be exempt released as they play O’Curry’s (Sligo) in the Connacht Club final on November 23. Michael Donnellan is also unavailable because of injury. Caltra’s victory in the recent county final should see Declan Meehan take over the Galway captaincy for next season’s championship.
Ulster coach Brian McEniff is without 17 first choice players because of holidays, injuries and club commitments for their semi-final against Leinster (holders) also on Saturday at Enniskillen.
Among them are Aidan Sweeney and John Gildea (Donegal); Kieran McGeeney and Oisin McConville (Armagh); Peter Canavan, Kevin Hughes, Brian McMenimen, Philip Jordan (Tyrone).
“Despite the absentees I have a very strong panel of 28 players to pick from and we are determined to dethrone the champions,” said the Donegal man.
Equally determined will be Luke Dempsey who is looking to steer Leinster to a hat-trick of titles this weekend.
However he will be without the services of several Meath players as Trevor Giles is getting married and most of his team-mates will be attending.
Dublin’s Alan Brogan is gone to Australia, but his colleagues Kieran Whelan and Paddy Christie are available for selection as is Dessie Dolan (Westmeath), Brian Lacey and Tadhg Fennin (Kildare).
According to Dempsey provincial champions Laois will be well represented, “and while we have little done in terms of preparation, those we have on the panel are looking forward to defending the title.
“I hope to be in a position to name the team after meeting with the players tonight,” he said.
Cork coach Billy Morgan had hoped to announce his fellow selectors at last night’s County Board meeting, but the meeting has been put back a week.
Speculation continues as to who the new selectors are but reliable sources say Colman Corrigan (Macroom), Sean Murphy (Kilmurry), Ted Owens (St Nicholas) along with a representative from county champions Castlehaven, will form the committee for the next two years.
Both Corrigan and Murphy are former players, with while the latter also serving as a selector in during the 1990 when Corrigan was a player.
Owens was trainer of the senior hurling team which won the 1999 All-Ireland but stepped down following the players’ strike in 2002.