Limerick face tough Offaly challenge

colm.kinsella@limeri

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colm.kinsella@limeri

LIMERICK senior footballers get their shot at redemption this Saturday when Maurice Horan’s men face Offaly in a crucial second round All-Ireland qualifier tie at the Gaelic Grounds.

LIMERICK senior footballers get their shot at redemption this Saturday when Maurice Horan’s men face Offaly in a crucial second round All-Ireland qualifier tie at the Gaelic Grounds.

Dual players Mark O’Riordan and Stephen Lucey will be notable absentees when Limerick bid to atone for their bitterly disappointing 11-point Munster semi-final defeat to Kerry last month. O’Riordan and Lucey are involved with the county’s hurlers for their qualifier clash with Antrim at Parnell Park on Saturday evening. But vastly experienced Limerick defender Tommy Stack has been enticed back out of retirement to assist the footballers in their bid to reach the next round of qualifiers and he is set to see action at some stage on Saturday. Stack last played for Limerick in the 2005 qualifier defeat to Derry.

Limerick manager Maurice Horan said; “Mark O’Riordan and Stephen Lucey will be involved with the hurlers. They have been with the hurling squad for the past few months. The players had been trying to juggle both games. Both players have given a lot of dedicated services to the footballers. The decision is with the two guys.

“The situation was always going to come to a head. Donal O’Grady was willing to let the guys play both. The door is not closed on them playing football later this year should we progress in the qualifiers.

“We would not have had Mark or Stephen with us had our qualifier been fixed for Sunday either. Some people seem to be under the impression that we would have had them available if the hurling and football games were on different days this weekend. But that isn’t correct.

“We decided a few weeks ago that we needed cover in the full-back line. We knew there was a strong possibility we would not have Mark O’Riordan or Stephen Lucey available. It was great to be able to call upon someone of Tommy Stack’s experience. He was very impressive in Dromcollogher-Broadford’s win over St Senan’s in the championship recently. You have to remember that positions in the full-back line are specialist ones. There is a big difference between playing there and in the half-back line, for instance.”

Limerick have a number of injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game with John Cooke and James Kelly in a race against time to be fit for this weekend’s qualifier. Limerick have delayed naming their team until Friday at the earliest in order to give their injury concerns maximum amount of time to prove their fitness. Horan admits the players are anxious to make amends for their sluggish display against Kerry in the provincial semi-final. Opponents Offaly lost heavily to Wexford in the Leinster championship before stunning Monaghan in the qualifiers.

“We had a bad day against Kerry. It is hard to overstate the poor nature of that performance. It was very disappointing,” Maurice Horan agreed. Offaly produced a similar performance against Wexford in the Leinster championship, but they bounced back against Monaghan.

“I wasn’t surprised by their display against Monaghan. Offaly are a quality team.

“They are trying to make a breakthrough and will be buoyed by their win over Monaghan.

“The Kerry game is five weeks ago. We took a week off after it to lick our wounds. The indications from the players in training since have been very positive. The lads are anxious to go out and show that their performance against Kerry is not a true reflection of their ability. We are anxious to make amends.”