Monday 20 November 2017

Limerick hopeful Downes will face Dubs

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

GOAL-SCORING full-forward Kevin Downes is Limerick's only significant injury worry ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final with Dublin (2.0).

The Na Piarsaigh star, who was starring for Ardscoil Ris in colleges hurling just 18 months ago, is carrying a hamstring injury which saw him taken off at half-time against Antrim, but he is expected to make the big game.

His former schools team-mate Declan Hannon, who only completed his Leaving Cert this summer, has also become a pivotal attacking figure in a Limerick side who were only pipped by a point by Waterford and have since taken out Wexford and Antrim in the qualifiers.

But manager Donal O'Grady says his side face another significant step up in standard on Sunday.

"The game will be the Division 1 champions against the Division 2 champions -- there is a gap of about eight teams there," O'Grady said.

"The other teams in the championship like Dublin, Kilkenny and Tipperary have all been building for years. Some of our lads did not play last year."

Dublin will be considerably boosted by the return of Ryan O'Dwyer from suspension, and David Treacy is also back in the reckoning after a long injury lay-off, though he is more likely to be used off the bench.

Galway look unlikely to make any changes for the second quarter-final in the big double-header at Thurles.

But opponents Waterford are expected to significantly shake up their starting line-up after conceding seven goals to Tipperary in the Munster final.

There is heavy speculation that Liam Lawlor, who replaced Darragh Fives last time out, will be the latest man given the onerous job of filling their problematic full-back spot.

Decies boss Davy Fitzgerald came in for severe criticism for moving Michael 'Brick' Walsh back there last time out to fill in for the injured Wayne Hutchinson and also for giving championship debutant Jerome Maher the job of marking Lar Corbett.

There is also speculation that Adrian Power may get a championship debut at the expense of experienced goalkeeper Clinton Hennessy.

Fitzgerald has given a lot of young players their chance this season, but it is believed that two-time All Star Eoin Kelly and Seamus Prendergast are among the experienced players who could now come back in.

Meanwhile, Offaly's Brian Gavin has been appointed to referee the Dublin/Limerick game and Cork official Cathal McAllister has been given the Galway/Waterford match.

Irish Independent

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