Saturday 24 June 2017

Treaty star Downes on track for April comeback

Limerick's Kevin Downes. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Limerick's Kevin Downes. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Jackie Cahill

Limerick star Kevin Downes is on course for a return from cruciate knee ligament damage in April.

Treaty hurling manager John Kiely confirmed that the Na Piarsaigh forward is "doing really well" in his rehabilitation after he was injured playing a club football game in July.

Another cruciate victim, Sean Finn, is also close to a return and Kiely believes that the 2015 All-Ireland U-21 medallist could declare himself fully fit within a month.

Kiely said: "Sean is on the 12-month barrier now and his recovery has gone really well. He has actually played a little bit of match time in training. He's only three-four weeks away from declaring himself fully fit.

"With Kevin, I think it will probably be April. He's doing really well.

"We won't be rushing anyone back, absolutely not. We want them to tell us when they're 100pc right."

Kiely will bring an experimental Limerick team to Fraher Field for Sunday's Munster Senior Hurling League opener against a Waterford team managed by his former UCC colleague Derek McGrath.

And Kiely believes that the success achieved by McGrath in recent years is a template that Limerick should aspire to.

Kiely revealed: "I've known Derek McGrath since we were in college. He's very thoughtful in the process he's working through, very precise about what he's doing.

"You could only have huge admiration for what he's done and for the last two seasons, they've been fantastic.

"If we could emulate what they've done in the last year or two, we'd be more than happy with our progress."

Kiely has also revealed that he faces a delicate balancing act with his squad during the early rounds of the Allianz Hurling League, which coincides with the Fitzgibbon Cup campaign.

In early November, Kiely announced an extended 39-man panel ahead of the 2017 campaign but 20 players are involved with various third-level teams.

And Kiely said: "We have a lot of lads involved in the Fitzgibbon Cup and that means they're going to be playing games midweek and weekends as well.

"We'll try to dovetail both situations so we don't flog the boys to death."

Darragh O'Donovan, Cian Lynch and Barry Nash are also on the treatment table at the present time but, excluding Downes, Kiely is confident of having a clean bill of health ahead of Limerick's League opener against Wexford.

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