McCarthy to fight on but Croke Park mediation ruled out
Published 16/02/2010 | 05:00
JUSTIN McCARTHY is still on course to be in charge of Limerick's hurlers when they open their National League campaign against Galway on Sunday -- but there will now be no face-to-face mediation with officials from Croke Park.
The Limerick players last week agreed to a mediation process with Croke Park and a letter confirming that was received in headquarters over the weekend. But Croker officials are expected to tell their Limerick counterparts in a conference call later today that they see no role for themselves in solving the impasse because of the players' unwillingness to play for McCarthy.
This will almost certainly mean a meeting of Limerick clubs to decide on the Corkman's future once again. The mood of last week's county board meeting suggested that the door will be shown to him.
If McCarthy were to go, there are strong rumblings that new selector John Tuohy would be best positioned to take over in a caretaker capacity.
Limerick's league opener will now be taking place in Kilmallock to accommodate the hosting of the AIB All-Ireland SFC encounter between Kilmurry-Ibrickane of Clare and Portlaoise at the Gaelic Grounds.
McCarthy's new-look Limerick team lost to Clare by six points (1-22 to 0-19) in a challenge match last weekend.
And, in the latest twist to the saga, county goalkeeper Timmy Houlihan has removed himself off the 2010 panel. When the squad was officially announced last Thursday, Houlihan's name was on it and he had been training with them.
But the former three-in-a-row All-Ireland U-21 winning goalkeeper has officially withdrawn from the panel which now includes just four players -- Brian O'Sullivan, Graeme Mulcahy, Paudie McNamara and David Moloney -- from last year's squad.
However, Moloney's Blackrock did provide a boost for hurling locally by winning the All-Ireland junior club final in Croke Park last weekend. In goals for Blackrock, after coming out of retirement this season, was Pat Heffernan, who was at full-forward when Offaly broke Limerick's hearts in the 1994 All-Ireland senior hurling final.
Elsewhere, Clare manager Ger O'Loughlin will be without Conor Cooney and John Conlon for their National League opener against Down, but Cooney's ankle injury is a sprain and not as bad as initially feared when he limped off against Limerick last weekend.
Clonlara's John Conlon is understood to be a fortnight away from returning to full fitness after he was injured recently playing for NUIG against Dublin in the Walsh Cup, while Clare are also monitoring the fitness of Paddy Vaughan who is nursing a hamstring injury.