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No sign of Limerick players ending their days in exile

HOPES of a end to the Limerick hurling civil war were raised yesterday, only to be scotched again by one of the chief combatants.

On the establishment side, Justin McCarthy declared peace and extended an olive branch to those who have refused to play for him this year while last year's captain, Mark Foley, told the nation that a phone call from the Cork man would be "taken in good faith".

Foley was interviewed on RTé's Six One news yesterday suggesting that initial contact from McCarthy would be greeted positively, prompting Shannonside optimism of an acquiesence from the players. However, Foley later clarified his comments, stating that he did not expect any of the players to return while McCarthy remained manager.

"When I said that a phone call from Justin McCarthy would be greeted positively, I was not suggesting that players would go back," Foley said. "All I am saying is that after dropping players and accusing them of indiscipline, those players were hurt and an apology from Justin might help them to go back. I'm not saying players would go back. I can only speak for myself - and I was one of those dropped - so going back is not an option."

McCarthy, though, was adamant that the players refusal to tog out this year and the attempts of a minority of Limerick clubs to force his removal did not change his stance in regard to the players he did not drop at the end of last year but who have turned their back on him. "We wouldn't bear a grudge and we would love to see them rethink," he stated. "We have a very young squad and it would be great to have the older players change their minds and not bear a grudge. I am available at any time to sit down and discuss issues or iron out issues. Careers are short and the opportunity to play for your county should be of the utmost importance for every hurler. If anyone wants to come on board we would discuss things with them -- I am extending the hand of friendship."