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Clare without experienced McInerney for Kilkenny clash

CLARE hurlers will be without influential centre-back James McInerney for Sunday's Division 1 semi-final with Kilkenny.

McInerney has suffered a broken thumb since the Division 1B final victory over Limerick and his hand is still in plaster.

Pat O'Connor is likely to cover for him and they have several options to fill his spot at wing-back but McInerney is a huge loss.

He is one of the most experienced men in a particularly young Banner team and one of the few survivors from the last Clare team to play Kilkenny in a big knockout match.

The sides haven't met in the league since 2009 when Kilkenny racked up a 3-16 to 1-9 victory in a season when Clare failed to win any NHL game and were relegated.

That team contained several of the young players who went on to win Clare's first All-Ireland U-21 final that summer, when they pipped Kilkenny by a point.

Those U-21s now make up the balance of their senior side, with Cian Dillon, John Conlon, Enda Barrett, Sean Collins, Conor McGrath, Colin Ryan and Domhnaill O'Donovan among their starters and Eamonn Glynn and Nicky O'Connell also in the squad

Clare also beat Kilkenny in last year's All-Ireland intermediate final and only lost by two points to them when they met in the 2010 All-Ireland minor final.

But the sides haven't met much at this level recently -- their last senior championship meeting was the 2006 All-Ireland semi-final when manager Davy Fitzgerald was still playing between the posts.

Very few of the Banner's '06 team are still involved. Jonathan Clancy is in the squad but McInerney, Pat Vaughan and Tony Carmody are all injured.

Brian O'Connell was wing-back in '06 but he has only returned from abroad and has the Munster SHC as his target for a return.

Irish Independent