McMahon gets Banner call

DIARMUID MCMAHON, first cousin of team captain Seanie, will make his first championship start for Clare who meet Tipperary in the first round of the Guinness Munster SHC at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday.

The talented Kilmealy player teams up with Colin Lynch at midfield for a game which will mark the return to first class hurling for Jamesie O’Connor. The brilliant Clare wing forward missed most of the league because of hamstring trouble but is reported to be fit and raring to go again.

He will play at left half forward with Alan Markham in the centre. However, the Clare selectors have left a vacancy at left corner forward. Barry Murphy, who is in the running for the position, is currently carrying a leg injury and the other player pressing for inclusion at top of the left, Andrew Quinn, received a knock on the instep last weekend. Both Murphy and Quinn are due to undergo fitness tests later in the week. In the event both being ruled out Daithi O’Connell could get the nod to start.

Tipperary have deferred team selection as manager Michael Doyle is awaiting a fitness report on midfield player Noel Morris, who injured his hip in the league final against Kilkenny. Tipp are also waiting on news concerning wing back Eamonn Corcoran whose case is being heard by the GPC at Croke Park tonight. Corcoran was red-carded in the League game against Galway, If he receives just a one-month suspension he will be eligible to play. But any suspension over a month will rule him out.

As expected, Tipp have added former minor and U21 full back Paul Curran from Mullinahone to their panel. It is expected he will be named as the replacement for Paul Maher.

Meanwhile, Kerry hurling manager Maurice Leahy confirmed yesterday that at his side’s request their scheduled meeting with Westmeath in the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers at Nenagh on Sunday has been deferred to May 31. Five members of the Kerry team - Shane Brick, Mike Lucey, Kieran O’Sullivan, Tadgh Flynn and Billy Brick - are all involved in university exams and Westmeath readily agreed to the postponement.

Commenting on his side’s opening round Munster SHC defeat by Waterford last Sunday, Leahy said the result was disappointing but he was pleased with his charges’ performance.

“They gave it the best they could and for a young team it was another great learning experience,” he said. “After all, Waterford are the reigning Munster champions and enjoy first division league status. We had a good run ourselves in the league, reaching the Division 2 final and, I feel, we are steadily improving. But we need to get home games in the championship over the next three or four years if that improvement is to be continued.

“We made that case to the Munster Council this year and they lent us a sympathetic ear. Unfortunately the other counties were having none of it. Maybe next year, instead of asking the other counties for their consideration, they will tell them we should get home advantage in our first round games. Otherwise our hurling development is going to be impeded.”

Antrim have been greatly boosted for their Ulster SHC semi-final with Derry at Casement Park on Sunday. Full back Kevin Kelly has recovered from the back injury which kept him out of action for the last two games and is sure to be included when the team is selected tonight. Also expected to receive a recall is talented wing back Liam Watson, whose one-month suspension is due to expire 24 hours before the start of the game.

CLARE (SH v Tipperary): D Fitzgerald; B Quinn, B Lohan, F Lohan; D Hoey, S McMahon, G Quinn; C Lynch, D McMahon; T Griffen, A Markham, J O’Connor; N Gilligan, T Carmody, AN Other.

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