THE Limerick hurlers will be without three key players for Saturday’s All-Ireland Qualifier.
John Allen’s side play Laois in the Gaelic Grounds at 7.30 as they bid to fight their way back into contention in the All-Ireland champions after the heartbreaking defeat to Tipperary in the Munster championship.
But Limerick were dealt big blow ahead of the visit of the Teddy McCarthy managed Laois with confirmation that Conor Allis will be out of action for up to six weeks.
The Croom man made his senior championship debut at centre forward against Tipperary after impressing for the county U-21 side last season.
Allis turned in an impressive performance with a tally of two points from play.
But last Friday night, Allis suffered damage to the AC joint in his shoulder during a training game against the county U-21 side.
Limerick manager John Allen confirmed that Allis will miss “five to six weeks”.
In another blow to the half forward line, Declan Hannon won’t be available to start.
The Adare man has missed most of the season with a persistent groin injury. He returned to training just two weeks ahead of the Tipperary game but clearly lacked match practise when introduced as a substitute in the second half.
But since that Tipperary game, Hannon has suffered another setback when training two weeks ago.
He didn’t play in the training game last Friday.
“His chances are slim but we will wait and see,” said John Allen.
The third key player likely to be absent on Saturday against Laois is Seamus Hickey.
The defender missed the Tipp game with a broken bone in his arm and is yet to resume full training.
“Seamus is making progress but is only back with us,” said the Limerick manager.
The loss of Allis means that the Limerick management will be forced into at least one change from the side that narrowly lost to Tipperary in Thurles.
Niall Moran and Kevin Downes would appear in the driving seat to fill the position.
If Limerick overcome Laois on Saturday they would progress to round two the following Saturday, June 30.
Antrim would provide the opposition in that tie, which would again be played in the Gaelic Grounds.
That tie would bring Limerick back into opposition with Jerry Wallace.
Last season’s Limerick trainer has returned to the Antrim management set-up over the weekend after briefly resigning from his role with the Ulster side.
Limerick will need to win three successive games to return to the quarter-finals of last season.
Wins over Laois and Antrim would put Limerick into round four, where potential opponents would be Clare, Offaly and the losing sides from next weekend’s championship games between Dublin and Kilkenny and Cork and Tipperary.
That game would take place on July 14.