Treaty duo miss out as GAA refuse switch plea
LIMERICK footballers will be without dual stars Stephen Lucey and Mark O'Riordan this weekend because the GAA have failed to accommodate the county's request to play their two qualifiers on separate days.
The footballers will play Offaly at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday (2.0) as part of a double-header with the mouth-watering third-round hurling qualifier between Cork and Galway.
But the Treaty hurlers will also be in knockout action that evening -- facing Antrim at Parnell Park (7.0) -- and football manager Maurice Horan is resigned to being without his two dual stars.
"We did put in a request to have the two matches fixed for different days and it's unfortunate that couldn't be accommodated. It means a direct conflict, but hurling comes first for the two boys right now and we understand that," he said.
O'Brien started for the footballers when Limerick lost to Kerry in the Munster championship and Lucey would have played that day but for injury.
Neither man started for the hurlers last weekend, but O'Riordan was the first man called off the bench when he replaced midfielder Paul Browne after 44 minutes, and hurling is both men's priority.
"When you've a county that plays both sports I suppose it's inevitable that there will be clashes," Horan said.
"The fixture-makes have to make tough calls sometimes and Offaly have suffered from this before. But it's a big pity that the two games are on the same day, which means supporters can't go to both of them."
Limerick secretary Mike O'Brien said it would still be physically possible for supporters to attend both, given the footballers' unusually early throw-in time (2.0) and the hurlers' 7.0 start in Dublin, but he admitted it is unlikely.
"Unfortunately these things are outside our control, but I think the early throw-in for the footballers is partly an effort to facilitate people who want to travel to both," O'Brien said.
Horan's problems are exacerbated because he has been hit with a number of other injuries. Already without cruciate ligament victim John Galvin, Horan will also be missing midfielder Jim Donovan and Eoin Joy, who replaced Donovan against Kerry.
"Jim probably shouldn't have played the last day because he has a back problem, he's definitely out and so is Eoin, who has torn his hamstring," he said.
And Horan also has worries about centre-forward James Kelly, who is carrying a knock.
Meanwhile, there is mixed news for the county's hurlers ahead of the Antrim clash. Corner-back Tom Condon (Knockaderry) who had a brilliant game on Rory Jacob last Saturday night, should be back, despite the ankle injury that forced him to be carried off after helping to make a goal-saving intervention after 50 minutes.
But while some sources said that attacking star Graeme Mulcahy will definitely also be available, senior hurling selector TJ Ryan yesterday described his chances of playing as "slim".
"We had a recovery session on Sunday, and Graeme's ankle was swollen. I'm not sure that he'll make it," Ryan said.
The flying corner-forward is one of the key men in the Limerick attack. Their forwards only found their rhythm when he clicked after half-time against Wexford and he finished the game with 1-4 from play.
All the times and officials for Saturday's bumper day of qualifiers were confirmed yesterday and Carlow footballers' request to have their throw-in time changed has earned them a slight adjustment.
Manager Luke Dempsey was furious when throw-in time at Casement Park was originally fixed for 2.0, arguing that it would force the Leinster side to make an overnight trip.
Carlow suggested 4.0 as an alternative but it has been fixed for 3.0, apparently to give Antrim supporters a chance to also take in their hurling qualifier in Dublin at 7.0.
Brian Gavin (Offaly) and Joe McQuillan (Cavan) have been assigned to referee the weekend's big provincial finals, while Meath official David Coldrick has been given the plum football qualifier, the big midlands derby between Kildare and Laois, which features former Armagh team-mates Kieran McGeeney and Justin McNulty as rival managers.
Venues and times for All-Ireland SF Rd 2 qualifiers (Saturday, extra-time if necessary): Limerick v Offaly, Gaelic Grounds, 2.0, M Condon (Waterford); Antrim v Carlow, Casement Park, 3.0, E Kinsella (Laois); Down v Leitrim, Newry, 3.0, M Sludden (Tyrone); Laois v Kildare, Portlaoise, 7.0, D Coldrick.* Live TV3; Longford v Tyrone, Pearse Park, 7.0, P McEnaney (Monaghan); Armagh v Wicklow, Morgan Athletic Grounds, 7.0, P Fox (Westmeath); Meath v Galway, Navan, 7.0, P Hughes (Armagh); London v Waterford, Ruislip, 6.30, S Doyle (Wexford)
All-Ireland SH qualifiers Phase 3 (Saturday, extra-time if necessary): Antrim v Limerick, Parnell Park, 7.0, J Owens (Wexford); Cork v Galway, Gaelic Grounds, 4.0, J McGrath (Westmeath).