Saturday 18 January 2020

Dooley doubt for Offaly hurlers' Leinster opener

Shane Dooley: Injured a hamstring while on duty with Offaly footballers (Photo: SPORTSFILE)
Shane Dooley: Injured a hamstring while on duty with Offaly footballers (Photo: SPORTSFILE)

Brian Lowry

Offaly hurling manager Eamonn Kelly admits that key forward Shane Dooley is only a 50-50 chance to line out for their Leinster SHC Round Robin opener against Westmeath in Mullingar on Sunday.

Dual star Dooley picked up a hamstring injury while on duty for the footballers and Kelly admits it will be touch-and-go for the Tullamore clubman.

"Shane Dooley hasn't trained with us for the last week or so," Kelly explained. "He pulled his hamstring in a challenge game with the footballers so he wasn't able to take part the last two weekends and we won't know where we stand with Shane until Friday (two days before the game). He would be an awful loss. Joe Bergin is nursing an injury too.

"The other side of that is that we have the likes of Kevin Connolly and David King back on the panel. All going well, the injuries will be okay on the day apart from Conor (Doughan). Conor is probably gone for the year as his collarbone is broken.

"We have to look at what our options are now. We probably need to make a few changes in the backline after that Kilkenny game and having Conor not available doesn't help the thing."

Offaly will come up against Westmeath, Carlow and Kerry in the next four weeks in a bid to make it into the quarter-final of the Leinster Championship, in which they would face either Galway or Laois.

The Faithful's hurlers were trounced by Kilkenny in the league quarter-final but a loss to Kerry in the last round of the regular league campaign in Birr left a far greater sting, according to Kelly.

"The Kerry one was more difficult to take than the Kilkenny one would you believe. There wasn't massive expectation in the Kilkenny game. There was great credit due to Kerry and we can't forget that. They are a good side. We were six points up in first half and we should have pushed on. These are the things we have to learn - to be ruthless."

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Offaly will be under pressure to open with a win and progress through the Round Robin. A defeat to Laois in last year's Leinster quarter-final condemned them into it and Eamonn Kelly insists the road to getting out of it starts on Sunday.

"I think the most important thing is to try and get a win and performance against Westmeath. If you don't, you are under pressure from then on."

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