John Allen has finalised his 30-man Limerick senior hurling panel for the forthcoming Allianz League. Jerome O’Connell looks at the prospects of the varying players.
The new 30-man panel includes players from 19 different clubs - 12 senior, six intermediate and one junior (Kilteely-Dromkeen).
Just four senior clubs have no inter-county senior representation - Doon, Bruree, Ballybrown and Knockainey.
The panel includes two sets of brothers - the Quaids of Effin and the Breens of Na Piarsaigh.
Na Piarsaigh lead the representation on the panel with six players, while county champions Kilmallock have three.
Effin, Murroe-Boher, South Liberties and Adare all have two players each.
Manager John Allen dropped five players from last season as part of the nine players cut from their extended panel for pre-season challenge games and the Waterford Crystal Cup competition.
There are six new players on the panel - Na Piarsaigh trio Alan Dempsey, Cathal King and Adrian Breen, Dromin-Athlacca’s David Reidy, Mungret’s Patrick Begley and Kilteely-Dromkeen’s Paudie Ahern.
The Limerick hurlers open their league campaign on February 24 against Antrim in the Gaelic Grounds.
There would appear to be three attackers and three defenders among the fresh faces. Alan Dempsey will be an option at corner back or wing back, while his club colleague Cathal King could fill a wing back position or play in midfield. Patrick Begley is very much a central player, with full back and centre back the options for the 2011 U-21 player.
Kilteely-Dromkeen’s Paudie Ahern is the only junior club player in the panel can fill a variety of roles. Primarily at club level he plays midfield.
The other two newcomers are forwards - Adrian Breen and David Reidy. Breen was the top scorer from play in the 2012 Limerick SHC, while Reidy was one of the stars of the Limerick IHC last season.
Of the six, Dempsey, Breen and Reidy would appear the best positioned to make an immediate impact.
There is no doubt that 2013 will be a big year for a number of the panel. Former Ardscoil Ris stars Shane Dowling and Declan Hannon fit into this section. Both brought big reputations from their underage days and will be hoping to sparkle at senior level in the coming months.
Paudie O’Brien and Sean Tobin have been around the panel in recent years but came to life in 2012. Both ended the year as regulars and will look to build on that for this season.
For a number of reasons, 2012 didn’t go to plan for some players. Injury-deprived Kevin Downes, Conor Allis and Paul Browne of an opportunity to cement starting roles. All three can be key players when back to full health and full confidence.
Also looking to force their way into plans will be Mark Carmody and Tom Ryan. Now in their second years, both will look for more game time.
The duo are part of the six panel members that are also expected to be part of TJ Ryan’s U-21 panel - Carmody, Ryan, Reidy, Dowling, Hannon and Dempsey.
There were eight to nine players that became very much permanent fixtures in the 2012. The Limerick management will need all to be just as significant in 2013. Donal O’Grady and Richie McCarthy defied expectation to copper fasten their places at the heart of the defence and start the year as the men in position of the jerseys. Kilmallock duo Gavin O’Mahony and Graeme Mulcahy will hope to continue their club form into the county scene. Wayne McNamara and Tom Condon are two of the fan’s favourites for towering defensive performances and will look to be just as consistent in the year ahead.
Nickie Quaid and James Ryan gave their usual solid performances, while one man that was reborn in 2012 was Niall Moran.
These nine players were pretty much first choice in 2012 and will again be central if Limerick are to target the break through of winning a Munster championship game or reaching an All-Ireland semi-final.
By the nature of sport some of the nine will suffer dips in form, but the reality is that Limerick need all hurling on top of their game.
Alan Dempsey, Cathal King, Shane Dowling, David Breen, Kevin Downes, Adrian Breen (all Na Piarsaigh), Paudie O’Brien (vice-vaptain), Gavin O’Mahony, Graeme Mulcahy (all Kilmallock), Nicky Quaid, Tommy Quaid (both Effin), Seamus Hickey, Seanie Tobin (both Murroe-Boher), Shane O’Neill, Tom Ryan (both South Liberties), Wayne McNamara, Declan Hannon (both Adare), Aaron Murphy (Hospital-Herbertstown), Tom Condon (Knockaderry), Richie McCarthy (Blackrock), Stephen Walsh (Glenroe), Patrick Begley (Mungret), Donal O’Grady, captain (Granagh-Ballingarry), Paudie Ahern (Kilteely-Dromkeen), Paul Browne (Bruff), James Ryan (Garryspillane), Conor Allis (Croom), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca), Niall Moran (Ahane), Mark Carmody (Patrickswell).