FOUR of the most experienced members of the Offaly football team won't be part of the panel for the upcoming National Football League, but manager Tom Cribbin insists there have been no retirements and all four may come back into his championship plans.
Veteran 'keeper Pádraic Kelly, defenders Conor Evans and Ger Rafferty, along with midfielder Alan McNamee, won't be utilised during the league as Cribbin - in his first full season at the helm - casts his eye over some up-and-coming talent in the county. "We will assess it towards the end of the league, how they are getting on with their clubs, if they have recovered from some injuries and how the younger lads are going," Cribbin told the Evening Herald.
Kelly - one of only two survivors from the Leinster-winning team of 1997 - will still have a hands-on role this spring as he will be mentoring the three senior netminders (Alan Mulhall, Eoin Brennan and Brian Quinlan) as well as Offaly's two U21 'keepers. Both Evans and McNamee have been troubled by injuries while Rafferty, who is self-employed, wanted a break, Cribbin explained. Ciarán McManus, the other '97 stalwart still playing, will be part of his manager's league squad.
THE crisis tearing Limerick hurling apart will drag on for another week at least, after tonight's specially convened county board AGM and regular board meeting were both postponed because of the bad weather. Meanwhile, as McCarthy continues his trawl for a new-look panel, former Limerick 'keeper Timmy Houlihan has been handed a chance to revive his inter-county career. He is among the players currently in training ahead of Limerick's seasonal opener in the Waterford Crystal Cup on January 24.
TIMMY McCARTHY has confirmed his retirement from inter-county hurling. Cork boss Denis Walsh hailed the three-time All-Ireland winner as a "fantastic servant" who "owes Cork hurling nothing."
TREVOR MORTIMER has been reappointed as Mayo football captain, with Peadar Gardiner again serving as vice-skipper.
PAUL CAHILLANE has come a long way from Parkhead. The former Celtic youth player has won the AIB player of the year award for Leinster following his scirubg exploits in helping Portlaoise to the provincial SFC title. Ballyhale's TJ Reid won the Leinster hurling award.