Could it end in a strike?

A meeting of members of the 2009 Limerick senior hurling panel will take place this week as the unrest over Justin McCarthy's wholesale personel changes continues to rumble on.

Leader Sport understands that a number of the panel are considering their future with the county team and inevitably the subject of a player's strike could be broached.

This latest development comes on the back of the withdrawal of former captain Damien Reale in protest over the wholesale changes to the panel.

James Ryan is said to be the latest player to consider his options.

Ryan, a full-time Limerick GAA coach, is understood to be considering opting to play inter-county football in 2010, rather than hurling.

Ryan did play in last Friday night's trial game, but this weekend will travel to London as a sub on the Munster team for the inter-provincial football final - 2009 was Ryan's first full season on the inter-county hurling panel after two years with Mickey Ned O'Sullivan's footballers.

Gone from the panel which faced Tipperary in last August's All-Ireland semi-final are: Stephen Lucey, Mark Foley, Mark O'Riordan, Niall Moran, Andrew O'Shaughnessy, Donie Ryan, Mike O'Brien, Damien Cosgrave, Donnacha Sheehan, Eoin Fole (all dropped), Philip O'Loughlin (emigrated), Dave Bulfin (personal reasons), Ollie Moran (retired) and Damien Reale (withdrawn).

Those that remain panel are: Brian Geary, Donal O'Grady, Brian Murray, Tom Condon, Seamus Hickey, Denis Moloney, Stephen Walsh, Gavin O'Mahony, Paul Browne, Bryan O'Sullivan, James Ryan, James O'Brien, David Breen, Wayne McNamara, Paudie McNamara, Dave Moloney and Graeme Mulcahy.

Speaking to The Irish Examiner this week Damien Reale said he raised the issue of the dropped players at a team meeting: "'Justin,' I said: 'Why didn't the lads who were being cut get even a phone call to explain what was happening? I think it was very unfair what happened to them.

"And he said to me - 'Damien, did you ever hear the phrase you're not your brother's keeper?'

"Well, if I'm not, I thought, then I'm no good to any team, nor to any management. I've led these fellas around the field, captained them, and I'm proud to have done that.

"They were my teammates and it was wrong to see them treated like this, it was wrong to see that old complaint about fellas acting the maggot brought up again.

"I can categorically state, everyone did everything that was asked of them this year.

"The question I asked myself was could I give 100 per cent to a management team that had treated people like this?

"After nine years with Limerick this is the hardest decision I've ever had to make. I'm still only 28 and I'm so proud to have worn that jersey, but I feel I have to stand up for what I felt was right."

Lack of communication

At the heart of this latest drama to surround Limerick hurling is a lack of communication which has forced Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan to issue an apology to the omitted hurlers: "On behalf of the County Board I apologise if the players were offended in any way," said Lenihan.

"If we caused any hurt to any player I would say sorry."

The chairman said that the hurling management did not communicate with the omitted players as a series of trials are to take place for fringe players and those omitted could yet to included in the final panel.

When the Limerick hurling management reassembled the 2009 panel last Wednesday night (October 28) last for a team meeting in the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel it became apparent that up to 12 players were missing.

The same players were also absent when a trial game took place on Friday night (October 30) in the grounds of Staker Wallace.

Those present at the meeting had received a text message to attend, but others got no communication from management and assumed they had been dropped.

On Friday morning (October 30) their suspicions were confirmed when Justin McCarthy was quoted in The Irish Examiner newspaper.

"I am sure that many teams will be making changes and we are no different in Limerick. The time has come to bring in some new blood and give them a go at inter-county level.

"The mind-set to survive at this level has to be right and we have to change that," said Justin McCarthy.

Trial game

Just 25 players were togged out last Friday night in the first of the planned trial games.

Twelve of the players were members of the 2009 squad - Brian Murray, Tom Condon, Seamus Hickey, Denis Moloney, Stephen Walsh, Gavin O'Mahony, Paul Browne, Bryan O'Sullivan, James Ryan, James O'Brien, Paudie McNamara and Graeme Mulcahy.

Among those on the team of newcomers were: Barry Hennessy (Kilmallock), Aaron Murphy (Hospital-Herbertstown), Jason Hayes (Bruff), James Mann (Patrickswell), Andrew Brennan (Caherline), Steve Cahill (Croom), Dean Madden (Bruff), Tommy O'Brien (Patrickswell), Anthony Owens (South LIberties), Alan O'Connor (Ballybrown) and Richie McKeogh (Kildimo).

At least another two trials are planned for the coming weeks, but no players from the 2009 squad will be allowed to attend due to the GAA's 'closed season'.

Best Wishes

The latest saga surrounding Limerick hurling pales into insignificance with the sad news that one of the fans favourites, Andrew O'Shaughnessy, has been diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

The heart-breaking news comes just weeks before his 25th birthday.

As a teenager the Kilmallock corner-forward made his first Limerick senior championship appearance as a substitute in the All-Ireland qualifier loss to Cork in Thurles in 2002.

In 33 championship appearances in the green of the county O'Shaughnessy has already amassed 8-102, putting him just behind Gary Kirby, Mick Mackey, Eamonn Cregan and Richie Bennis in Limerick's scoring charts.

Leader Sport extends the best wishes of all GAA fans to 'Shaughs'.


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