THE Limerick minor hurling team for Friday’s Munster championship semi-final shows three changes from the side that defeated Cork in the opening round.
Limerick travel to Cusack Park in Ennis on Friday bidding to reach a first provincial final since 2005.
The final, against Tipperary, is fixed for Pairic Ui Chaoimh in Cork on July 15.
Into the Limerick team come corner forwards Liam O’Sullivan and Jack Kelleher as well as Diarmuid Dee at wing back.
Not only would victory this Friday guarantee Munster final place, but Limerick at a minimum would also secure an All-Ireland quarter-final place at the end of July.
“It would guarantee us almost another two months of training and hurling throughout the summer and that’s what Limerick need,” outlined Limerick minor manager Shane Fitzgibbon.
The Adare man is joined in the back room team by coach Ger Cunningham (Knockainey), selector Mike Galligan (Claughaun) and liaison officer Michael O’Connor (Na Piarsaigh).
Limerick advanced to the semi-final with victory over Cork back on May 2.
Over the last seven weeks many of the panel have undergone Leaving and Junior Certificate exams.
Challenge games against Tipperary, Kilkenny and Dublin have helped Limerick prepare for the Clare game.
Indeed last week’s outing against Dublin was the 17th game played by the minor panel.
“We have got on well since the win over Cork the lads had exams but we had three good challenge games and they have all worked so hard,” explained Fitzgibbon.
“I think the Cork win gave confidence to everyone. Anytime that you go down to Cork and get a win its only natural that everyone would be confident afterwards,” said Fitzgibbon.
“At the end of the day, people were saying post-match that it wasn’t a good Cork team but a month before the game people were saying that Cork were the ones to beat. No matter it was big thing for our confidence and it shows everyone involved in underage hurling that Limerick are going in the right way,” said Fitzgibbon.
While accepting there were “more positives than negatives” in the win over Cork, the manager believes that there is plenty room for improvement in his panel of teenagers.
“There was a realisation on behave of everyone that the performance could have been better. For a lot of young lads it was there first championship outing and it can be a huge ordeal,” said Fitzgibbon, who brought the panel to Ennis last Friday for a training session in Cusack Park.
On Friday Limerick face a Clare side that lost after extra-time to Waterford in round one but regrouped to beat Cork in the backdoor series.
“It is a tough challenge but one we are capable of winning,” said the minor manager.
“They might have the pedigree from the last couple of years but it down to the 60-minutes. They are a formidable outfit but I would like to think that we are formidable also,” said the former Limerick corner forward.
LIMERICK - Darragh Stapleton (Doon); Shane Irwin (Bruff), Richie English (Doon), James Carrig (Patrickswell); Diarmuid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Barry O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Diarmuid Dee (Mungret-St Pauls); Brian Finn (Bruff), Kieran Cleary (Knockainey); Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), David Condron (Granagh-Ballingarry), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell); Liam O’Sullivan (Knockaderry), Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell), Jack Kelliher (Patrickswell).