THE Limerick senior footballer are facing a crisis of numbers ahead of Sunday’s vital Allianz Football League clash away to Waterford.
Maurice Horan’s side play The Decies in Dungarvan on Sunday (2.30) in round two of Division Three.
Both Munster counties lost their opening round ties, making Sunday all the more important.
But Limerick’s task has not been helped by the absence of key figures.
Definitely out are Shane Gallagher and Philip Corrigan, who are both out of the country and Seamus O’Carroll, who has handball commitments in the Munster championship.
All three started in the round one loss to Tipperary and therefore this has enforced Horan and selectors; Ephie Fitzgerald and Joe Lee to postpone their team selection until after training on Friday evening.
To add to their woes, key defender Stephen Lavin remains on the sidelines and will also miss the first home game - against Offaly in Newcastle West on Sunday February 27.
Also doubtful for Sunday’s game in Waterford are Stephen Lucey and Stephen Kelly.
Lucey is carrying a hamstring strain, while Kelly has a shoulder complaint.
Indeed Lucey could be required by the hurlers 24 hours before the football encounter so a decision on the Croom man could have to wait until Sunday morning.
His club and county colleague Mark O’Riordan could also be doubly engaged this weekend, if he is involved with Donal O’Grady’s hurlers against Westmeath on Saturday.
“We have been left with no other option but to wait until later in the week to select our team,” explained football manager Maurice Horan to LeaderSport this Wednesday lunch-time.
“In total we have 12 players either injured or just coming back from injury and then we have the three lads unavailable,” he outlined.
Others carrying knocks include Liam Costello and Eoin Joy.
For many football followers they will see parallels with last year’s visit to Aughrim when a Limerick side low on numbers secured a merited draw with Mick O’Dwyer’s side.
Heading to Waterford on Sunday, all will be mindful that Limerick were defeated by Waterford in the National Football League last season at the group stages in the Gaelic Grounds.
And, when looking back to that tie, it is noticeable that absent on Sunday will be Gallagher, Padraig Browne, Andrew Lane, Conor Mullane, James Ryan and Conor Ranahan.
The loss of that six alone will paint the reality of Sunday’s tie.
While Limerick did lose to John Owens’ side in the round robin section of the NFL in 2010, the Shannonsiders did regroup to defeat Waterford in the league final in Croke Park and then in the first round of the Munster championship.
“Both of us lost our opening games and of course we will be anxious to get back on track,” said Horan.
“We know from last year that any game against Waterford will be tough.”
In the loss to Tipp last time out Limerick gave first senior starts to O’Carroll, Corrigan and John Riordan.
Incidentally the team was captained by Johnny McCarthy as county champions Monaleen were not represented in the starting team.
Indeed 2010 defeated finalists, Adare were also without a player in the starting line-up.
Ballylanders and Dromcollogher-Broadford were the beaten semi-finals in the senior club championship last year, so from the four ‘best’ club sides in the county in 2010, just Seanie Buckley was involved.
Limerick are back in action the following weekend when they entertain Offaly in Newcastle West.
Unfortunatley this game currently clashes with the Dr Harty Cup final between Charleville CBS and Ardscoil Ris.
Limerick will have a run of home game and will be hoping that strong home form can get their promotion drive back on track in a division, which Limerick was favoured to advance from.
But with Louth, Wexford, Westmeath and others in the way, it will be a talll order for Limerick to secure successive promotions