'Rested' Treaty club forwards to miss Cork league opener
Published 12/02/2014 | 02:30
Limerick's decision not to recall their Na Piarsaigh players after last weekend's All-Ireland club semi-final defeat to Portumna will leave them without what could potentially be a first-choice forward line for Saturday's Allianz League Division 1B opener against Cork.
Joint managers Donal O'Grady and TJ Ryan have opted to rest Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes and David Breen for potentially their toughest game of a short campaign.
With Niall Moran retired and Seamus Hickey and Declan Hannon expected to miss all or most of the league campaign as they recover from cruciate and ankle surgery respectively, Ryan admitted yesterday that the impact of the absentees will be "huge."
But Ryan has defended the decision not to recall the Na Piarsaigh players for such an important match.
"I think it's too soon. Those guys, between winning the Munster club and training through December and January, they need a break," he said.
"You have to be fair to them. They need a break. From a player welfare point of view themselves, trying to hurl all the way through wouldn't be good.
"They'll be out until the middle of the league I think. We'll probably give them three or four weeks off."
Dowling, Moran and Downes all came off the bench against Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final, while Hickey, Hannon and Breen started. Hickey ruptured his cruciate knee ligament during the first half of that match.
The good news, though, is that fullback Tom Condon and centre-forward Conor Allis have both been declared fit after returning from recent injuries.
Limerick will name their team after training tomorrow night.
With just one team getting promoted, the importance of Saturday night can't be overstated, especially in the context of Limerick's argument against the league structures over the last few years.
Leaving out the Na Piarsaigh players – Alan Dempsey and Cathal King are also involved – represents a gamble that may cost them Division 1A status for another year. "We will be under pressure from that point of view but there are opportunities for others. Going down to Cork without those, it's going to be tricky," added Ryan.