Downes in race to be fit for U-21 semi-final

LIMERICK are to give team captain Kevin Downes every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s ALl-Ireland U-21 hurling championship semi-final.

LIMERICK are to give team captain Kevin Downes every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s ALl-Ireland U-21 hurling championship semi-final.

The goal-scoring full forward had the hard plaster removed from his right hand this week but was still wearing a protective shield.

“I still don’t know whether I can play. I must see the specialist again this week and I’m getting physio on it,” explained Downes.

“I’ve just been doing basic fitness work and catching balls. I’m trying to keep the eye in as much as I can but I still haven’t been able to hold the hurley properly,” he confirmed.

The selection of the Limerick team was delayed until after training this Thursday to give Downes every opportunity to prove his fitness.

Limerick are definitely without wing back Cathal McNamara, who suffered a tear to the A/C joint in his shoulder during club training with Doon last weekend.

“Cathal is out and he’s going to be another huge loss,” confirmed Limerick manager Leo O’Connor .

“But all year , the lads have battled away when we’ve had injuries. But we got on with it and that’s what we’re going to do here,” said the Claughaun man, who won an All-Ireland U-21 medal in 1987.

“We are really looking forward to it now - the lads have all their work done and we just hope that they perform on the day,” said O’Connor, who brought Limerick to Thurles last Saturday for a training session. On the return home the panel had a lucky escape when the team bus was involved in a traffic accident in Dromkeen.

“We were all very lucky , but we’re all ok. There was 25 of us left on the bus, after we had a couple of drop- offs,” explained O’Connor.