Saturday 14 December 2019

Anthony Maher back in Kingdom frame for Clare clash

O’Donoghue and Buckley ruled out as Munster semi-final comes too soon

James O’Donoghue, receiving treatment for his shoulder injury while playing for Legion last year, won’t be fit in time for the Munster semi-final against Clare. Photo: Sportsfile
James O’Donoghue, receiving treatment for his shoulder injury while playing for Legion last year, won’t be fit in time for the Munster semi-final against Clare. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

James O'Donoghue will not start Kerry's opening Munster Championship match for the third successive year as he continues to rehabilitate the shoulder injury that required surgery at the end of last season.

O'Donoghue is not in the frame for the visit of Clare to Killarney this weekend but Anthony Maher is a possibility as his hip problem, which also required surgery, finally shows signs of complete recovery.

Johnny Buckley has also been ruled out after undergoing minor knee surgery in recent weeks.

Kerry were in Surrey in the UK for a training camp last week and Maher made a lot of progress there, according to manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, fast-tracking his recovery.

"He is in very good shape. We are delighted with where he is at. The week before we went away, he played both evenings at training. The week we were away, he did a session a day which was the plan for him. We are happy with where we are at," said Fitzmaurice.

"It was slow, but that was to be expected with the nature of the injury. That was the advice he was getting.

"From Anthony's point of view, when you get to a certain point, you just want to be on the pitch and as his return to play date was getting closer, he was a bit further away than he thought he should be. It came very fast in the end. He is good."

Maher had hip surgery in late October and missed the entire League campaign. Until a recent club game with Duagh, he had not played a competitive match since the All-Ireland final.

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O'Donoghue was involved with Legion into November but then had more shoulder surgery.

"We hope he will be back into full contact the week after the Clare game. We will have a look at the county league game," added Fitzmaurice.

"We had planned for him to play this weekend, but the Legion game against Crokes won't go ahead. We will see where he is at next week.

"Legion plays Desmonds on Saturday week."

O'Donoghue missed the corresponding club game against Clare two years ago and was a substitute against Tipperary in the 2015 semi-final.

Donegal have injury concerns over captain Michael Murphy and midfielder Neil Gallagher ahead of their Ulster quarter-final with Fermanagh.


Murphy's training has been restricted over the last number of weeks due to an ankle problem while Gallagher has been laid up with a troublesome back.

Meanwhile Dublin defender Cian O'Sullivan has pointed to a "lapse in concentration" as they conceded 2-1 in a five-minute spell in Saturday's Leinster quarter-final win over Laois.

Dublin won easily, building on the platform of two devastating early goals but they conceded two goals for the first time in six years in a Leinster Championship match.

"It was a lapse in concentration. We just took the foot off the gas," said O'Sullivan. "It's disappointing to concede that amount of scores in that amount of time.

"But looking at the positives, we did finish the game very strongly. And we managed to regain control of the game after that.

"So it's important that the heads didn't drop. We were able to regain our lead after conceding scores. So there's a positive in how we reacted to that.

"But definitely, it's something we'll need to look at and improve."

Meanwhile Down will enter this morning's first qualifier draw of the 2016 Championship in the 'B' section following the defeat to Monaghan.

They will be joined by Antrim, Limerick, Longford, Wexford, London and Offaly or Westmeath and Donegal and Fermanagh, all of whom play this weekend. These games take place on the weekend of June 25/26.

The draw for the 'A' first round qualifiers, which take place next weekend, sees Derry, Armagh, Leitrim, Waterford, Limerick, Carlow, Wicklow and Louth or Meath, who play on Sunday, all in the mix.

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