Banner sweat on O’Connell fitness

NICKY O’CONNELL remains Clare’s only major injury worry ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland qualifier clash against Dublin in Croke Park.

The 2009 All-Ireland U21 winner, who made his senior championship debut against Waterford at midfield last month, hasn’t trained with the side over the past four weeks.

“Our biggest concern at the moment is Nicky O’Connell, who since the Waterford game hadn’t trained with the team up until last Sunday morning,” revealed Clare boss Ger O’Loughlin.

“He got a hamstring/back injury that he picked up when playing for Clonlara against Ballyea in a club championship match. He is a big concern for us as he hasn’t the work put in. If we play Nicky, we’re obviously hoping that we can get an hour out of him, but it is unlikely that we would get 70 minutes out of him.”

However, with Newmarket-on-Fergus’ defender James McInerney ruled out long-term and Crusheen’s Gerry O’Grady having retired from inter-county hurling ahead of the Waterford game because of long-standing injury problems, Clare’s cause is set to be strengthened with the return of Gerry Quinn to full fitness.

“Gerry Quinn is working hard and is pushing for a place,” stated O’Loughlin, who was speaking in The Clare People. “We’ve all the hard work done since the Waterford game and we’re just hoping that it all comes to fruition. We will be taking this week handy and re-charging the batteries and getting the energy levels high.”

Dublin manager Anthony Daly is wary of the challenge that Clare will pose.

“Clare are coming off a very good display and there’s a bit of a high in the county at the moment because of all the young lads that are hopefully coming through.We would have felt against Kilkenny that we didn’t really have a go at all. We got a bit of a lift from the U21’s win over Kilkenny and people forget that we have a very young side as well. Obviously we’ll have to decide to go for it and go for breaking ball like our lives depend on it, which we didn’t do in Croke Park against Kilkenny.”


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