Laois game a must-win, says Limerick boss Allen

LIMERICK boss John Allen has several attacking injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s trip to O’Moore Park to face Laois in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League, which he has branded a ‘must win’ encounter after the 14-point beating they suffered against Clare in the opening round last month.

Declan Hannon (groin), James Ryan (leg) and Shane Dowling (groin) are all rated as doubtful, while Kevin Downes has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. In addition, Mike Ryan and Seanie O’Brien had club U21 championship games last night, while Mark Carmody is involved with UL in the All-Ireland Fresher Hurling Division 1 final against UCC in Mallow on Thursday, a game UL teammate Hannon is almost certain to miss out on.

“Sunday is a must-win for us after the Clare match and being short attackers doesn’t help our cause. There was huge disappointment at how we capitulated against Clare and an acceptance that [that] standard won’t do. It would be recognised that Clare are at an advanced stage of fitness in comparison to us but we still shouldn’t have been that far behind them.

“We had previously played two Waterford Crystal Cup games against them and there had been very little between the two teams. If we want to make progress in the league, we have to rectify that and get a win against Laois. With the new league structure, there aren’t many games and we can’t afford another defeat. The players know that and I’d be happy with how training has gone since.

“But we need all the players we can get and right now it looks like we’ll be down some. Declan Hannon’s injury really is not improving progressing the way we hoped and James Ryan hasn’t really trained since the Clare game when he came off early injured. Kevin Downes is definitely out and we’ll see how Shane Dowling is as the week goes on.”

Allen will continue to be without defender Seamus Hickey, who is in New York as part of his PhD studies until early April, for next Sunday’s match. The Murroe-Boher player was home in Ireland at the weekend and was in Cork on Saturday where he was honoured with a place on the Fitzgibbon Cup Team of the Century.

Allen spoke with Hickey and is satisfied that he is maintaining his fitness levels while based in the USA.

“There are no fears about Seamus in terms of his fitness. He’s a very dedicated guy and is serious about hurling. I know that he’s working away over there to keep himself in shape. At the same time there is an acceptance that he’ll have missed out on two months of collective training and it is difficult to match that when you’re working on your own.

“He’ll be back to us in the second week of April and at least he’ll have six or seven weeks then to get to the inter-county standard before we play Tipperary in the championship in May.”


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