Thursday 22 March 2018

Kelly rings Faithful changes

Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly (SPORTSFILE)
Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly (SPORTSFILE)

Michael Verney

Offaly boss Eamonn Kelly has reacted to their 14-point mauling at the hands of Westmeath by ringing the changes ahead of their crunch round-robin tie with Carlow in O'Connor Park today.

Their provincial campaign got off to a disastrous start last weekend and with pressure mounting Kelly has opted for four changes in personnel as they look to bounce back to form.

Sean Ryan was one of the few Offaly performers who left Mullingar with some credit but he misses out with concussion as Dermot Shortt, David King, Sean Cleary and Cillian Kiely are called up to the starting 15.

James Mulrooney, Ben Conneely and Dan Kelleher miss out while captain Colin Egan has been named to start at centre-back for the first time this year.

Their conquerors Westmeath will be full of confidence for their trip to Tralee to face Kerry where they make just one change with former captain Brendan Murtagh returning to start at full-forward.

The Clonkill attacker replaces club-mate Darragh Egerton as Michael Ryan's side look to put one foot in the Leinster SHC quarter-finals with a win against their fellow table-toppers.

Meanwhile, on the football front in Kerry, speculation is mounting that ex-Kingdom captain Kieran O'Leary has been dropped from the county squad as Eamonn Fitzmaurice reacts to their recent League final reversal.

The Dr Crokes forward, who lifted Sam Maguire as co-captain with Fionn Fitzgerald in their 2014 All-Ireland triumph, is one of five axed by Fitzmaurice after Kerry's 11-point defeat to Dublin along with Pa Kilkenny, Jack Sherwood, Paul O'Sullivan and Aidan Walsh.

O'Leary missed last summer's championship with a ruptured Achilles tendon and looks set to play no part in Kerry's 2016 campaign, which begins with a Munster semi-final on June 12 against Limerick or Clare.

Their departures follow that of Tommy Walsh, who quit the panel last week in frustration at the lack of game-time he has received since returning home from AFL stints with the Sydney Swans and St Kilda.

OFFALY (v Carlow) - J Dempsey; P Rigney, D Shortt, C McDonald; D Mooney, C Egan, D King; P Camon, S Cleary; S Kinsella, J Bergin, C Kiely; P Murphy, S Dooley, K Connolly.

WESTMEATH (v Kerry) - P Maloney; S Power, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, G Greville, A Clarke; C Boyle, E Price; A Devine, D McNicholas, R Greville; L Varley, B Murtagh, N O'Brien.

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