The hurling crisis in Limerick is set to take a new turn next week with reports the West Board, having consulted with a number of players from the division (captain Mark Foley and midfielder Wayne McNamara, both from the Adare club, along with Tom Condon from Knockaderry, panel members from the division in 2009), will be discussing the current situation at their regular board meeting next Monday evening after which it is expected it will again be brought up at county board level.
The history of the crisis has been well documented at this stage, 12 players of the 2009 panel cut by embattled manager Justin McCarthy in October last, 12 more leaving in the weeks that followed, in protest.
Just over a week ago the disaffected players issued their first statement, in which they were severely critical of the way the county board has handled the situation, and in which also they robustly rebutted several claims that had been made by Justin McCarthy since the crisis began, and stated unequivocally that they would not be playing for him again.
Since then, however, it’s known that many of those players are deeply unhappy with how the situation is being portrayed, with claims from both the county board and the senior hurling management team that talks are on-going with the players, and hints that a satisfactory solution is in sight.
“I’m optimistic,” said selector John Touhy last Sunday, after Limerick had lost their first competitive outing of the season, against a young UCC side in the Waterford Crystal tournament; “We’ll see what happens in the future – the door is open, everyone is still welcome.”
That may well be the case, though in light of an interview given by Justin McCarthy at the time of the cut, it’s doubtful that ‘everyone’ is still welcome; nevertheless, say the players, all those words of conciliation are simply a smokescreen to mask reality and create confusion, a situation in which rumours abound.
Several players were being named this week in the rumour mill as being ‘ready to return’ to training. All those named, when contacted, and though refusing to go on the record, denied the rumours completely.
They have said all they wanted to say, is their reasoning, and all that they’re going to say, but nothing has changed – they will not be going back.
In the meantime, manager McCarthy and his selectors look set to go with an almost entirely new team when the league commences in a few weeks’ time, kicking off with a game against Galway on February 21.
In a strong eight-team division, and with the last-placed team to berelegated, if this current standoff continues many Limerick hurling supporters fear the worst.
They have good reason.