McCarthy forced into further changes

The depth of Justin McCarthy's already understrength panel will be severely tested when Limerick take on Offaly in Saturday's All-Ireland SHC phase 2 qualifier in Tullamore (throw-in 7pm).

The depth of Justin McCarthy's already understrength panel will be severely tested when Limerick take on Offaly in Saturday's All-Ireland SHC phase 2 qualifier in Tullamore (throw-in 7pm).

With forward duo Paudie McNamara (emigration) and Sean Herlihy (suspension) both unavailable, and full-back David Breen, wing back Sean O'Riordan and midfielder Andrew Brennan ruled out by injuries, McCarthy has made five changes to the team that lost the Munster semi-final to Cork.

Wing back Lorcan O'Dwyer and wing forward Nicky Quaid will make their first Championship starts, having appeared as substitutes against Cork, while there are Championship debuts for full-back Cian Hayes, midfielder Daniel Moore and wing forward James O'Brien from Na Piarsaigh.

Hayes from the Kildimo club, Monagea man Moore and O'Brien are all Under-21 players and six of McCarthy's starting line-up are likely to see action next Wednesday when Limerick play Clare in the Munster Under-21 Championship.

The winners of this weekend's clash will make it through to phase 3 of the qualifiers on Saturday week, where they will come up against either Antrim or Tipperary.

Commenting on Saturday's trip to O'Connor Park, McCarthy said: "It's a huge game there is no doubt about that. It's winner-takes-all, if we don't win we are out and if we win we go to the next step.

"We realise what is involved and we are very conscious of it and we have to be very positive about the whole thing.

"It's a huge challenge against an Offaly team that is after having two very good games against Galway and are in form.

"But I think we have made progress and I'm happy that we are going in with the fight frame of mind particularly."

McCarthy's two-year term as Limerick manager will conclude when the Shannonsiders exit the Championship, after which a review process will be conducted.

In a radio interview, the Corkman has suggested that he has the drive and energy to remain on in charge of his adopted county.

"I gave a commitment to the Limerick County Board, who interviewed me for the job, that I would stay for two years.

"I'm not one to walk away from things when I see something that can be done and if I can do it with the energy and enthusiasm and the experience that I have, I was always going to play my part in order to put Limerick hurling in a new sort of an era coming through to have new thinking and new ideas - so I wasn't going to walk away from that.

"I am a hurling man through and through - my track record in hurling and my interest and love of hurling is absolutely endless," he added.

Of the players from the 2009 panel, McCarthy admitted: "The door is always open. The door isn't shut on anybody, but people have to realise that there are rules and regulations. You must have somebody in charge."

LIMERICK (SHC v Offaly): T Flynn; K O'Rourke, C Hayes, S O'Neill; L O'Dwyer, B O'Sullivan, P Browne; T O'Brien, D Moore; James O'Brien (Na Piarsaigh), James O'Brien (Bruree), N Quaid; G Mulcahy, A Owens, R McKeogh.

Substitutes: B Hennessy, S O'Connell, E Kelly, S O'Riordan, D Madden, C Mullane, P Russell, A O'Connor, D Kenny, M Deegan, A O'Connell, M Noonan, D Lynch, A Brennan.

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