DECLAN Hannon is a major doubt for Limerick’s Munster championship opener against Tipperary as he struggles to recover from the groin injury that has kept him sidelined so far this season.
Limerick, who coughed up an eight-point lead in last Saturday’s league final loss to Clare, meet Tipperary in Thurles on May 27 and Hannon has been prescribed another six weeks’ rest from action.
The highly-talented Adare youngster hasn’t played for the Limerick seniors since last year’s All Ireland quarter-final loss to Dublin and manager John Allen says he is now in a race to be fit for the Semple Stadium showdown.
“He’s going to be out for another six weeks and the problem is that as he’s trying to get back to fitness everyone else is flying ahead. And then there’s very little time for him to ease back into it - you’re straight into serious championship hurling.
“It’s disappointing because he’s a player we’d love to have but this injury has turned out to be more serious than he first thought. He has to get it right or else it could affect him for a long time.”
Hannon missed last year’s Munster semi-final against Waterford as he was in the middle of sitting his Leaving Cert but he came back into the side for the games against Wexford, Antrim and Dublin and was so impressive that he earned an All Star nomination.
While he remains a serious concern, captain David Breen is the latest to join the injured list after he was forced off with a hamstring tear against Clare last weekend.
The Limerick players were given the week off after that disappointing loss but return to action this weekend when they play the county U-21 side in a practice game.
Allen has games pencilled in over the next three weekends and is very keen to get a look at players who didn’t get a chance during their Division 1B campaign. As well as the game against the U-21s, Limerick are due to play Offaly and Dublin in the coming weeks.
Seamus Hickey is expected to link up with the panel after returning from the US while veteran Brian Geary and Na Piarsaigh’s James O’Brien will also get an opportunity as they return to fitness.
One player who won’t feature, however, is Mark O’Riordan after he opted off the panel as he struggled to shake off a knee injury.
“We want to take a look at the players who didn’t get a chance during the league,” added Allen. “Because the league was so short we didn’t get any real chance to experiment but we will try and look at everyone in the next couple of weeks.”
See this week’s print edition of the Limerick Leader for more coverage of the Limerick V Clare Allianz Hurling League Division 1B final