Fitzgerald springs shock as McGrath dropped for Clare clash
WATERFORD hurling boss Davy Fitzgerald has produced a major surprise ahead of Monday's Munster semi-final against his native Clare by handing the full-back spot to rookie Liam Lawlor, in addition to dropping talismanic veteran Ken McGrath.
Lawlor, of the Fourmilewater club, will be making his championship debut in a team that has Eoin Kelly at full-forward and Richie Foley partnering Shane O'Sullivan in midfield.
They face a Clare team featuring seven -- Donal Tuohy, Cian Dillon, Conor Cooney, Nicky O'Connell, Sean Collins, John Conlon and Darach Honan -- of last year's All-Ireland U-21 winners, but which also includes the experienced Gerry Quinn and Alan Markham in the match-day subs.
Despite injury worries, David O'Callaghan will start for the Dublin hurlers in their Leinster opener against Laois.
Joey Boland retains the centre-back spot and Simon Lambert and Paul Ryan start in the half-forward line. Conor Dunne and Neil Foyle replace Eoin Costello (suspended) and Colin Delaney in the only Laois changes since beating Carlow.
Monaghan football boss Seamus McEnaney has given championship debuts to corner-back Colin Walshe and wing-forward Kieran Hughes against Armagh tomorrow.
But despite returning to full fitness, Eoin Lennon is is held on the bench and John Paul Mone partners Dick Clerkin in midfield.
Armagh's only enforced change is Vincent Martin replacing the injured James Lavery at corner-back.
Meanwhile, the Munster Council has done a dramatic U-turn on the proposed venue for its provincial hurling final.
Earlier in the week, Munster had indicated that Waterford had agreed to travel to Pairc Ui Chaoimh if they qualified to play Cork in the decider.
But that revelation infuriated the Decies players and management, who were not prepared to agree to any such concession and, if they qualify to play the Rebels, the game will definitely be played in Thurles.
Elsewhere, Tipperary have been rocked by the news that Brian O'Meara's yellow card from last Sunday's Munster SHC quarter-final has been upgraded to a red.
Full-forward O'Meara -- making his championship debut against Cork -- was booked four minutes after half-time for a challenge on Cork corner-back Shane O'Neill at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
The incident was later highlight-ed on 'The Sunday Game' and compared with Andy Smith's red card offence against Wexford from the previous night's Leinster SHC clash. Tipperary officials indicated last night that they were unlikely to appeal against O'Meara's ban.