Sport Hurling

Friday 28 July 2017

O'Grady calls for Munster U-21 switch

LIMERICK 3-22, ANTRIM 0-12

Cian Murphy, all-ireland shc qualifier

LIMERICK look set to request a postponement of their Munster U-21 semi-final to avoid a clash with their All-Ireland quarter-final preparations after Donal O'Grady's men beat 14-man Antrim at Parnell Park on Saturday.

A straight red card for Karl Stewart in the 28th minute for a stamp on Brian Geary ruined what had been a close-fought opening period -- one that the Ulster champions had, in fact, dominated.

A sluggish Limerick found their feet and their form with the extra man and crushed Antrim 2-12 to 0-4 in the second half to set up a last-eight date with Dublin on Sunday week.

However, Limerick manager O'Grady believes asking four of his senior squad to play in a Munster U-21 semi-final with Clare on the previous Thursday is wrong.

"If the GAA are serious about burnout they'll have to put the game back. It's a decision for the Munster council, but maybe sense will prevail," said O'Grady, who had his dual players involved in a direct fixture clash on Saturday -- Mark O'Riordan and Stephen Lucey both opted for hurling.

"From a medical, burnout and prevention of injury point, you wouldn't play a full match on a Thursday night and then go back out on a Saturday or Sunday and play a full match again. That's a recipe for disaster."

The Limerick boss sensed the team "were a small bit off in the warm-up" but after struggling to settle, they came into the game well and once they had numerical advantage and the breeze in the second half they powered clear.

Antrim's Dinny Cahill cut a dejected figure afterwards and says he would take time before deciding whether to commit to the long haul from his home in Tipperary to train the Glens men.

"We are disappointed with the result and the scoreline wasn't a true reflection on Antrim's performance," he said.

"After losing a player, and the game Limerick play, having the extra man with their handpassing game suited them. We are proud of our players -- they fought hard in the first half and took the game to Limerick and we were a bit unlucky, and then the sending off didn't help things."

With Neil McManus in inspired form at midfield and Cormac Donnelly defiant at full-back, Antrim were well worth their 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 18 minutes.

Limerick played themselves into a lot of trouble, displaying a poor first-touch in defence, but they settled when they began to pick out their teen star wing-forward Declan Hannon in a more direct approach.

The sides were level at 0-7 each in the 28th minute when Geary rugby-tackled Stewart on the touchline. As the players fell, Stewart was seen to direct his leg into the Limerick man and referee James Owens reached for the red card.

Timed alongside Hannon's growing influence, the extra man allowed Limerick to move up a gear and in the 32nd minute Hannon set up Niall Moran to drill an excellent goal and earn his side a 1-10 to 0-8 half-time lead.

Antrim had the gap down to three in the 48th minute but were unable to get the goal they needed with O'Riordan, Geary and David Maloney also prominent for Limerick.

Hannon had a shot blocked and Moran hit the bar, before substitute David Breen scored an impressive solo goal in the 53rd minute.

That killed off the Ulster men's resistance, with scores flowing afterwards and Richie McCarthy also finding the net in the 58th minute.

SCORERS -- Limerick: D Hannon 0-8 (5f), N Moran, R McCarthy 1-1 each, D Breen 1-0, S Tobin 0-3, M O'Riordan, J Ryan 0-2 each, T Condon, B Geary (0-1 '65'), G O'Mahony, D O'Grady, K Downes 0-1 each. Antrim: N McManus 0-8 (0-6f), E McCloskey 0-2, D Hamill, C McCann 0-1 each.

LIMERICK -- N Quaid 8; D Maloney 7, S Hickey 7, T Condon 7; W McNamara 7, B Geary 7, G O'Mahony 7; D O'Grady 6, M O'Riordan 8; N Moran 8, J Ryan 6, D Hannon 9; S Tobin 7, K Downes 6, R McCarthy 7. Subs: D Breen 7 for Downes (h-t), P O'Brien 7 for O'Grady (h-t), T O'Brien 7 for Moran (61), S Lucey 7 for Geary (61), S Walsh 7 for O'Meara (61).

ANTRIM -- C O'Connell 6; A Graffin 6, C Donnelly 7, K McGourty 6; N McAuley 6, M Herron 6, S McCrory 6; P Shiels 6, N McManus 8; E McCloskey 7, K Stewart 5, C McFall 6; J Scullion 6, D Hamill 6, C McCann 6. Subs: B McFall 6 for Scullion 45, C Carson 6 for McCloskey 57, C Herron 6 for McCrory 62.

Ref -- J Owens (Wexford).

Irish Independent

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