Changing of the guard - two retire as Allen wields the axe on others

Jerome O’Connell

Reporter:

Jerome O’Connell

“THE youngsters are the future of Limerick hurling.”

“THE youngsters are the future of Limerick hurling.”

So declared new county hurling manager John Allen this week as he confirmed an overhaul of the Limerick senior hurling panel.

Gone are seven members of the 2011 panel, while another two long serving stalwarts have called time on their inter-county careers.

“The panel is very much open-ended and if a fella is playing out of his skin in the Fitzgibbon Cup or for his club we will have no hesitation in calling him back into the panel,” Allen told LeaderSport.

“I rang everyone of them myself,” he confirmed of the players that have been omitted from his plans for 2012.

Gone are a number of households names including 2007 All-Star goalkeeper Brian Murray and long serving Stephen Lucey.

After withdrawing in 2010, Murray was replaced as No1 netminder last season by Nicky Quaid. A back injury hampered the Patrickswell man throughout the season, meaning that Aaron Murphy ended as second choice to Quaid.

Lucey also struggled with injury as he combined hurling and football for Limerick.

On top of the omissions are the retirements of Damien Reale and Donie Ryan, who both spoke with John Allen last week.

As well as Murray and Lucey the list of those left out of the plans for 2012 are Kilmallock duo Paudie O’Brien and Eoin Ryan, Murroe-Boher pair Paudie McNamara and Pat Tobin and Kieran O’Rourke of Bruree.

In total nine members of the 2011 panel are gone but none of those now departed started in Limerick’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Dublin this July.

Allen and management are to work with a youthful squad for the coming season, backboned by the U-21 winning side - the remaining players with experience are Brian Geary, Donal O’Grady, Mark O’Riordan and Niall Moran.

Allen stated that he hoped to have a training panel in place within the next week.

Confirming his retirement Damien Reale said that work pressures and a young family had influenced his decision.

“I would like to thank my family and friends and wife Sarah for all their support down the years,” said Reale.

“Myself and Donie had our decision made after the Dublin game,” he recalled.

“I now have Damien Reale Health and Safety Services and will be working between Wexford and Clare so simply won’t have the time,” said Reale, who turns 31 next May.