Limerick's Cian Lynch
“IT will be a good test of where we are at,” said Limerick hurling manager John Kiely of Sunday’s Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League final.
The Limerick-Clare derby takes place in the Gaelic Grounds – throw-in at 2.00.
It’s a fourth successive final appearance for Limerick in this early season provincial competition – winning in 2015 but losing the last two deciders.
“We are moving along nicely – next week will be an interesting game,” said the Limerick manager.
”We go to the final next week against Clare and that will be a decent test. There will be no taking your foot off the gas in that kind of a contest.”
Kiely added: “That will be a serious contest I am sure it will be a good contest - Clare are going very well. They started early this year and won the Fenway Competition (in Boston) and obviously going well in this competition and I think it will be a good test of where we are at”.
Ahead of the final, Limerick captain Declan Hannon is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. The centre back limped out of Limerick’s Munster Hurling League win over Kerry after 23-minutes last Sunday.
John Kiely has confirmed that the Adare man will miss this Sunday’s Munster Hurling League final against Clare and now appears in a race to be fit for the round one Allianz League tie with Laois on Sunday January 28.
“It’s a pity Declan (Hannon) picked up a hamstring injury and that’s the only real negative from the day. It looks at least two to three weeks - it’s a hamstring tear,” said Kiely of the Hannon injury.
The captain joins 2017 All Ireland U-21 centre back Kyle Hayes on the treatment table.
”Kyle Hayes and Declan are the main two concerns at this stage and we will have to wait and see how they pan out,” said the Limerick manager.
Limerick have used 27 players in the Munster Hurling League games against Cork and Kerry – just Richie English, Diarmaid Byrnes and Seamus Flanagan played every minute of both games.
With 10 members of the panel, club-tied with Na Piarsaigh that just leaves Hayes, Graeme Mulcahy, Gearoid Hegarty and Richie McCarthy yet to get game time in the new season.
”Richie McCarthy is home from Australia on Tuesday so he will be back training from this week but he will obviously need three or four weeks work to get back up to speed,” said Kiely.
He added: "We are trying to avoid overloading fellas in January".
Debuts have been given to six – Seamus Flanagan, Barry Murphy, Oisin O’Reilly, William O’Meara, Daragh Fanning and Paddy O’Loughlin.
Limerick begin their Division 1B Allianz Hurling League on January 28 when Laois come to the Gaelic Grounds.
Limerick’s management have confirmed that they won’t be calling upon their 10-strong Na Piarsaigh contingent until their involvement in the All Ireland club SHC ends – the Caherdavin club play Derry’s Slaughtneil in the All Ireland semi final on Saturday February 10 in Dublin’s Parnell Park ruling them out of at least two of the five group games and potentially all group games if the city club progress to a St Patricks Day final in Croke Park against Galway’s Liam Mellows or Dublin’s Cuala.
Ahead of Sunday’s final, Limerick face a Clare side that have scored eight goals in two games and are yet to concede a goal. Cappamore’s Liam Cronin remains part of their coaching set-up and they have used relatively strong line-ups in both Munster League games.