Blow for Davy Fitzgerald and Clare as Conor McGrath is ruled out of Limerick clash
CLARE forward Conor McGrath has been ruled out of Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier against Limerick at Semple Stadium – and the Cratloe player is facing a race against time for an All-Ireland quarter-final should the Banner County get there.
McGrath, 25, is battling a hip injury and Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald has indicated that he might not even be ready until an All-Ireland semi-final in August if Clare progress through the back door.
McGrath, goalkeeper Pa Kelly and Conor Ryan will be absent again through injury on Saturday when Clare tackle local rivals Limerick in Thurles.
McGrath’s latest setback will rule him out for between four and eight weeks, Fitzgerald revealed, while Kelly is looking at a four-week spell on the sidelines.
There is some positive news on Ryan, however, who hasn’t featured for Clare since the Allianz League quarter-final victory over Tipperary in early April.
Man-of-the-match in the drawn All-Ireland final in 2013, Ryan was diagnosed with a hormonal disorder but is set for some light training as he continues his recovery.
“How long it will take him to get back up to full speed, we don’t know,” Fitzgerald admitted.
“We have the same injuries as the last day (against Laois) – Pa Kelly, Conor McGrath and Conor Ryan.
“Conor McGrath is 4-8 weeks, in that bracket, and would hopefully be back for an All-Ireland quarter-final or semi-final, if we get there.
“Pa Kelly is looking at four weeks and Conor Ryan, we’re just not sure. He’s starting some light training.”
Clare will start as favourites against Limerick to book a spot in the quarter-finals but Fitzgerald is anticipating a desperately tight encounter.
It will be a fourth championship clash in six seasons between the counties and Limerick have won two of the last three.
The Shannonsiders claimed a qualifier victory in 2012 and also won last year’s Munster quarter-final, although Clare did win the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final.
Fitzgerald predicted: “It’s going to be tight and it’s going to be a battle.
“There’s going to be nothing in this game. I think we always bring the best out of each other and I’ve a feeling that’s what you’re going to see.
“We beat them by four points in the League but they had a man sent off and if it stayed 15 on 15, it could have gone either way.”