Injury blow for Limerick ahead of Kerry challenge

LAST season’s Limerick senior football captain Ger Collins will miss Sunday’s McGrath Cup semi-final against Kerry.

LAST season’s Limerick senior football captain Ger Collins will miss Sunday’s McGrath Cup semi-final against Kerry.

The Monaleen man was replaced injured during last week’s win over Clare.

The forward went for an x-ray this week but it confirmed that nothing was broken.

However, the badly bruised shoulder will rule Collins out of the weekend.

Others like Johnny McCarthy, John Riordan and Stephen Lavin are carrying knocks after last weekend but should be ready for action.

Mark O’Riordan is another that could be absent but fellow defender Damien Quaid should be ready to return.

Another back in contention is Paul Kinnerk.

Seanie Buckley went for an MRI scan in the Sports Clinic in Santry on Monday and while he awaits results he remains side-lined with a groin complaint.

Limerick travel to Kerry bidding to book a final spot against either Tipperary or Waterford the following weekend.

Remarkably, Limerick have not played Kerry in the McGrath Cup since 1999.

That historic day in Abbeyfeale saw Limerick beat Kerry for the first time in competitive action since 1895.

The scoreline was 1-5 to 0-6 when Liam Kearns side made history with a famous win over The Kingdom.

Limerick followed up with a 2002 league win but have failing agonisingly in the championship on numerous occasions, especially in Munster finals.

Sunday could offer a golden opportunity to take get over on The Kingdom.

If Limerick are to harbour aspirations to beat the ‘Big Guns’ in the championship, there is no better place to start gaining momentum than on Sunday in Fitzgerald Stadium.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice has been in experimental mode to date and this could offer an experienced Limerick an opportunity to gain a merited win.

Last Sunday, Limerick knocked off the cobwebs in the Clare game.

Afterwards, Limerick manager Maurice Horan was happy with the workout.

“We started off brightly and we were quite satisfied after 20 minutes and then all of a sudden we stopped playing for some reason. They were getting overlaps all over the place,” said Horan.

“We got in at half time and got organised and it still took us 20-minutes to get back into the game.”

He added: “Their two goals were too soft”.

“For the 10 minutes before half time they had their own way but after that we contained them more.”

The win over Mick O’Dwyer’s Clare ended two years without a win in the early season competition.

“We wanted to put in a performance - especially here in a home ground with Ian Ryan as captain,” said Horan.

“We are satisfied and we have another competitive game next weekend, which is crucial for us,” said Horan, who was leading Limerick into his third season as manager.

With Limerick working with largely the same squad as last season, Horan said that performances and not experimentation was his quest.

“Our approach is that we are not really experimenting in the McGrath Cup - we are trying to get as far as we can in the competition,” he explained.

“We are looking forward to it,” said Horan of the trip to Kerry.

“You can’t beat that kind of competition - we would be playing challenge matches in foggy venues around the country but now we can play a competitive game and get to go through our pre-match routine and you can’t do that often enough.”

Limerick will have a strong team on Sunday, but are also still waiting for some key players to return.

Most will be back for the opening league game on February 3 against Leitrim but others are looking towards St Patrick’s weekend before they are ready.

“All going according to plan John Galvin should be back in the middle of March, Jim Donovan around the same time, Stephen Lucey before that,” outlined Maurice Horan.

Limerick trained this Tuesday night and will name their team for the McGrath Cup semi-final against Kerry game after training on Thursday evening.