TEENAGE star Shane Dowling has been named in the Limerick hurling team to take on Antrim in this Sunday’s must-win Allianz NHL Division 1B game in Casement Park.
Dowling hasn’t played since the win over Laois in Round 2 but has been named at wing-forward instead of Niall Maher. It’s the only change from the side that drew with Offaly last weekend.
Dowling missed the win over Wexford and the draw with Offaly but did make his return to action with the Na Piarsaigh U-21s during the week when he came on as a sub in their championship quarter-final win over Deel Rangers.
Limerick need to win that game to have any chance of reaching the Division 1B final against Clare. Davy Fitzgerald’s men are already qualified having won their four games but the other place is up for grabs with Limerick, Offaly and Antrim all in contention.
Limerick and Offaly are tied on five points while Antrim are on four. For Limerick to reach the final, they need to beat Antrim and hope that Clare beat Offaly in Tullamore. If Offaly win, then Limerick will need a big win against Antrim as Offaly’s scoring difference is superior to Limerick by 13 points. An Offaly win coupled with a narrow Limerick win would see Offaly go forward to the final on score difference.
A draw would be enough for Limerick if Offaly were beaten. For Antrim to reach the final, they need to beat Limerick and hope that Clare beat Offaly.
Antrim manager Jerry Wallace - who was the Limerick coach last season under Donal O’Grady - has recalled two of the Loughiel Shamrocks team that won the All Ireland club title earlier this month. However, high-profile full-forward Liam Watson isn’t included in their match-day squad.
Long-serving goalkeeper DD Quinn returns instead of Seanan McToal while Eddie McCloskey is named at wing forward instead of Darren Hammill. Two other Loughiel players - Barney McAuley and Joey Scullion - are named on the bench.
Limerick are favourites to win the game at a price of 1/4 with Antrim at 3/1 and the draw at 14/1.
Should Limerick reach the final then it will likely be in the Gaelic Grounds on Easter Saturday, April 7. The winner of the Division 1B final will be promoted to Division 1A for next season and will also earn a semi-final place in this year’s Division 1 proper - against one of the Division 1A teams.
LIMERICK V Antrim - Nickie Quaid; Stephen Walsh, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon; Wayne McNamara, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony; Paul Browne, James Ryan; Shane Dowling, David Breen, Conor Allis; Graeme Mulcahy, Niall Moran, Tommy Quaid.
ANTRIM V Limerick - DD Quinn; Aaron Graffin, Cormac Donnelly, Kieran McGourty; Neil McAuley, Neil McManus, Michael Gettens; Karl Stewart, Paul Shiels; Simon McCrory, Michael Herron, Eddie McCloskey; PJ O’Connell, Conor Carson, Shane McNaughton.