Saturday 20 January 2018

Retiring Moran doesn't want to be 'passenger'

Limerick’s Niall Moran in action against Noel Connors of Waterford last weekend in what looks like being his final game for the county
Limerick’s Niall Moran in action against Noel Connors of Waterford last weekend in what looks like being his final game for the county
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

NIALL Moran has given up his chance to make Limerick hurling history because he didn't want to "become a passenger."

The 31-year-old from Ahane, who first retired in late 2013 but was persuaded back midway through last summer, called time yesterday with 46 championship games under his belt, which was only two short of Mark Foley's record of 48 Limerick appearances.

Moran started last Saturday night's drawn Division 1B opener with Waterford but was hauled ashore after 28 minutes when he was noticeably replaced by Tom Morrissey, a young clubmate who is one of the county minors of last year who have already broken onto TJ Ryan's squad.

A player who always wore his heart on his sleeve Moran stepped down with typical candour, telling the 'Limerick Leader': "I felt it best to be honest now and not become a passenger in a set-up loaded with ambition and talent. The margins for victory don't allow for that.

"I spoke to TJ earlier in the year and I said I'd play some of the early-season games and see how I felt physically," he explained.

"Having played the last four games, I felt myself that I wasn't getting to the pitch of where I needed to be at this level and time constraints outside of hurling weren't going to give me the leverage to put in even more time.

"I could not speak highly enough of the management, backroom staff and players. It goes without saying that I am disappointed in myself that I wasn't getting to where I'd hoped to be but (I am) 100pc behind TJ and the best group a player could hope to be part of."

Moran first retired in December 2013 and was not involved at all when Limerick beat Tipperary in the Munster SHC semi-final last summer.

But Ryan persuaded him back into the squad soon afterwards and while he did not make any appearance in their second Munster final in a row, he did come off the bench in their subsequent All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final against Wexford and Kilkenny respectively.

Moran made his senior debut in 2003 and scored 7-97 in championship hurling, which leaves him sixth on Limerick's all-time scoring charts.

He won two All-Ireland U-21 medals and played in the 2007 All-Ireland senior final yet despite his long service, he only won a first Munster medal two years ago, when he came off the bench for Seamus Hickey and bagged a point in the late stages of Limerick's famous Munster final victory over Cork, their first title provincial title in 17 years.

He has also been an influential figure on many of the county's rising youth talent as a teacher in Ard Scoil Ris which has become a real powerhouse in schools' hurling recently.

Limerick face the long trip to Ballycastle this weekend and could yet have Shane Dowling, and Declan Hannon back after the pair missed their opener due to illness and injury respectively.

Elsewhere, Galway hurling manager Anthony Cunningham has left a vacancy at left corner-back for Sunday's Division 1A clash with Tipperary.

Either Padraig Mannion or Fergal Moore will replace Ronan Burke but both have to undergo late fitness tests.

Tipperary, who won't name their team until tonight, look likely to start without Shane McGrath and newcomer Joe O'Dwyer who both picked up heavy knocks against Dublin last week.

Cork have made three changes in personnel for their all-Munster clash with Clare in Division 1A tomorrow night.

Lorcan McLoughlin, Rob O'Shea and Luke O'Farrell come into their starting line-up.

McLoughlin starts at wing-back, which releases Aidan Walsh to midfield and Patrick Cronin is the one who loses out.

Dropped

Bill Cooper is out after picking up an injury last week and Paudie O'Sulivan is the other one who is dropped from the forwards, where Farrell is his replacement at full-forward and O'Shea comes in at wing-forward.

Cork need to use their home advantage after suffering a two-point loss to Kilkenny in Pairc Ui Rinn last week and are still without Stephen McDonnell and Jamie Coughlan due to injury.

Clare were without eight players through injury last week when a last-minute Jason Flynn from the sideline stole the points for Galway in Salthill.

They started without Tony Kelly and David McInerney who were both hamstrung and neither, noticeably, lined out for their college midweek in the Fitzgibbon Cup, which indicates they'll miss out again.

Wexford's hurlers are boosted by the return of captain Matthew O'Hanlon and Liam Ryan to face Offaly.

O'Hanlon is back from suspension and replaces Tomas Waters, who himself got a red card last week, and both of them come into the full-back line.

CORK (SH v Clare) - A Nash; D Cahalane, C Joyce, C O'Sullivan; L McLoughlin, M Ellis, C Murphy; D Kearney, A Walsh; C Lehane, S Harnedy, R O'Shea; A Cadogan, L O'Farrell, P Horgan.

GALWAY (SH v Tipperary) - C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, AN Other; G McInerney, D Collins, I Tannian; J Cooney, A Smith; P Brehony, J Glynn, D Higgins; C Mannion, J Flynn, J Regan.

WEXFORD (SH v Offaly) - M Fanning; L Ryan, M O'Hanlon, C Kenny; P Foley, L Chin, E Moore; D Redmond, G Sinnott; I Byrne, D Waters, D O'Keeffe; P Morris, J Guiney, L Og McGovern.

Irish Independent

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