LIMERICK’S senior hurling championship panel is to be finalised in the coming week.
Manager John Kiely and his selectors used 35 players during their seven Allianz Hurling League games and it is understood that the management team are to meet in the coming days to begin the countdown to the June 4 Munster SHC semi final with Clare in Thurles.
After the disappointing league exit to Galway, the players have returned to their clubs this week and will then regroup ahead of a Sunday April 30, at 7.00, challenge game against Cork in Old Christians GAA grounds in Rathbane.
There will be club championship games on the weekends of May 5-7 and May 12-14 before an uninterrupted three week build-up to the Sky Sports televised Munster semi final with The Banner.
With just over six weeks to the championship, Limerick are on course to select from a full panel, with the likes of Declan Hannon, Seamus Hickey, Peter Casey, Tom Condon, Paul Browne and even Kevin Downes all hoping to play in the upcoming club championship games.
Limerick entered the league with a panel of 38 players and gave debuts to 10 players in a campaign that returned four wins (Cork, Offaly, Laois and Kerry) and three defeats (Galway twice and Wexford).
Speaking this Wednesday, John Kiely looked back on the campaign as a “mixed league”.
“We had some decent performances against some of the lesser teams but we would be disappointed with aspects of the other games. The highlight was the Cork game – that was a pretty decent performance. Sunday (Galway semi final) was one we didn’t expect and it was below par,” outlined Kiely.
“That was not the way we wanted to exit the league – at the end of the day we got a lot out of the league and we now have a better pick of our players and some certainly put their hands up more than others.”
He added: “We will have a number of different games in the coming weeks and there will still be chances for guys to impress for the championship”.
“This was never going to be a six month job, more like 24-months. Look at the Galway team and 10 of them played in the All Ireland SHC final two years ago and 12 played in the semi final last year – we are both at different stages and we just have to stay strong to our process”.
“We are now best served focusing on the championship. We have six weeks for championship and I guess we are not going to be given a chance of beating Clare,” said Kiely.
The bookies give Limerick a 6/4 chance of toppling 4/6 favourites Clare to reach a July 9 provincial final.
Meanwhile across the Shannon, Clare’s Conor McGrath and Patrick O’Connor have returned to training after missing the league. That leaves just Shane O’Donnell on their injured list.