Murphy's availability a timely boost for Offaly
OFFALY hurling boss Joe Dooley has received a major boost with the news that versatile ace Brendan Murphy is set to be available for the championship campaign.
After being troubled by a back injury for some time, a scan last February revealed that Murphy was suffering from a prolapsed disc in his back.
And the Ballyskenagh clubman, who, although playing with Offaly seniors since 2000, is still only 29, was told by his specialist at that time that he might need to have a nerve block, which involves receiving an injection into the spine.
Such an eventuality would have ruled Murphy, who can play comfortably either at midfield or in attack, out of hurling for at least six months.
But, following a period of intensive physio treatment, coupled with a lot of swimming, Murphy's condition has improved to such an extent that he recently began doing light jogging, and earlier this week resumed hitting the ball with his team-mates.
"So far, things have gone very well for Brendan, and if he doesn't have any setbacks there seems to be a good chance that he will be available for this year's championship," said Offaly selector Pat Moloughney.
Offaly open their Leinster campaign against Antrim at Parnell Park on May 30, with the winners advancing to a provincial semi-final against either Galway or Wexford on June 20.
Because of his injury, Murphy is, of course, ruled out of Sunday's final-round NHL tie against Tipperary at Tullamore.
Meanwhile, corner-backs David Franks and Michael Verney, who both started in Offaly's recent three-point defeat by Waterford, are doubtful starters for the clash with Tipperary.
Franks pulled his hamstring playing with Carrickshock in a Kilkenny club game, and Verney aggravated a calf muscle injury.
Regardless of the result against the Premier County, Offaly, promoted last year from Division 2, have preserved their place in the top flight for 2011.
Despite that, however, selector Moloughney would like to see his county finish their league campaign with a flourish.
"League and championship are completely different, but it would still be a good boost for the championship if we turned in a good performance against Tipperary," he said.