Laois hurling boss Rigney steps down

NIALL RIGNEY has stepped down as Laois hurling boss in the wake of last Saturday’s surprise All-Ireland championship exit at the hands of Carlow.

The Portlaoise man had been at the helm for two full seasons, having succeeded Damian Fox midway through 2008, and almost sprung a major upset in last year’s All-Ireland qualifier against Limerick.

Laois picked up five wins in Division 2 of the NHL but a first round Leinster championship victory over Carlow was followed by a provincial defeat to Dublin and last weekend’s All-Ireland qualifier loss to Carlow.

The Laois County Board yesterday released a statement outlining their gratitude for Rigney’s work and revealed the process to find a replacement will begin in two weeks.

“Laois GAA would like to acknowledge the huge contribution he has made to Laois hurling over the past two seasons. Coiste Iomán meet with clubs next Thursday week to review all aspects and structures of Laois hurling, whereby opinions will be taken on board by Coiste Bainistí who will decide on the process of appointing a new management structure.”

Meanwhile Limerick boss Mickey Ned O’Sullivan has named an unchanged team for Sunday’s Munster SFC final against Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium. O’Sullivan has resisted starting Conor Fitzgerald and Eoghan O’Connor who both impressed during the semi-final win over Waterford.

The Limerick team contains three changes from last July’s Munster final against Cork. Brian Scanlon comes into goal for the retired Sean Kiely, Andrew Lane replaces Shane Gallagher in defence and James Ryan is named in attack instead of Cormac Joyce-Power. There are six survivors from the Limerick team that last contested a Munster final against Kerry in 2004 – Mark O’Riordan, Johnny McCarthy, Stephen Lavin, Stephen Lucey, John Galvin and Stephen Kelly.

Kerry boss John Meyler has made two changes in personnel for Saturday’s Christy Ring Cup decider against Westmeath in Croke Park from the team that defeated Wicklow at the semi-final stage. Aidan Healy comes in to the backs as Andrew Keane is suspended, while James Flaherty replaces John Mike Dooley in the full forward line.

Meanwhile Wexford hurling boss Colm Bonnar is confident Keith Rossiter and Willie Doran will be able to line out in Saturday’s All-Ireland Qualifiers’ clash with Tipperary.

Both full-back Rossiter and half-forward Doran broke bones in their hands in the wake of the Leinster quarter-final defeat by Galway on May 30, but have recovered as have defensive duo Paul Roche and Malachy Travers.

LIMERICK (SF v Kerry): B Scanlon; M O’Riordan, J McCarthy, A Lane; S Lavin, S Lucey, P Ranahan; J O’Donovan, J Galvin; P Browne, J Ryan, S Buckley; G Collins, I Ryan, S Kelly. Subs: C Ranahan, S Gallagher, E Joy, C Fitzgerald, E O’Connor, J Mullane, C Joyce-Power, D Carroll, R Hayes, G Noonan, S O’Carroll, C Mullane, J Cooke, B Fitzpatrick, E Fitzgibbon.

KERRY (SH v Westmeath): B Rochford; C Harris, T Murnane, J Fitzgerald; J Godley, L Boyle, A Healy; M Conway, J Griffin; J Egan, M Boyle, D O’Connell; J Flaherty, G O’Brien, S Nolan. Subs: JB O’Halloran, J McCarthy, C Harty, S Brick, S Maunsell, E Sheehy, R Kenny, JM Dooley, P Monson, N Young, D Fitzelle, J Casey, S Young, B O’Leary, R Nolan, D Twomey, A Royle, N Leen, A McCarthy, P O’Keeffe.

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