Ryan in fitness race as UL gear up for Waterford IT battle

UNIVERSITY of Limerick are sweating on the fitness of leading attacker Willie Ryan ahead oftomorrow’s Ulster Bank Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final against Waterford IT (Dangan, 2pm).

Ryan tore his hamstring in training with the Tipperary senior hurlers on Thursday night and is rated extremely doubtful.

Centre-back John Devane is another injury worry for the UL management after sustaining a dead leg in last Wednesday’s quarter-final victory over UCC.

“Willie is a major worry for us,” admitted UL manager, Ger Cunningham. “He suffered a Grade 1 tear to his hamstring in training with Tipp. We’ve been doing everything we can since then to get him right. But unfortunately I think time could come against us. John has a dead leg and we’re just hoping that he’ll pull through.”

Ryan has been a key figure in this year’s campaign and was top scorer in their quarter-final win with a 1-9 return. If the Toomevara player fails to recover in time, then former Clare senior Andrew Quinn, current Galway senior David Burke and Tipperary senior Michael Heffernan are likely to vie for his place. Laois senior Matthew Whelan is the most likely replacement in defence if Devane is unable to start.

UL’s opponents Waterford IT have a doubt over Wexford midfielder Mark Molloy who got stitches in his hand recently but it is confident of featuring.

The other semi-finalists NUIG and Limerick IT are both unlikely to have their current injury victims back in harness for tomorrow’s last-four meeting, (Dangan, noon). NUIG have been without last year’s Clare All-Ireland U21 winning duo Cormac O’Donovan and Caimin Morey in this campaign. O’Donovan, who struck the winning score in September’s All-Ireland U21 final, is suffering with a hamstring injury while Morey has a groin problem.

Limerick IT’s doubts also concern members of Clare’s All-Ireland U21 winning side. Full-back Conor Cooney is still struggling with a knee injury sustained in a recent challenge match and James McInerney is likely to revert to the edge of the square, like he did for last week’s quarter-final tie against UCD. Inagh-Kilmanoma player Eamonn Glynn is a long-term absentee for the LIT side.

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