Returning to training: Darragh O'Donovan of Limerick, in action here against Kilkenny last season, is the only player in doubt for this Saturday's clash with Tipperary
LIMERICK won’t rush the Na Piarsaigh players back in to action for Saturday’s Allianz Hurling League semi final.
John Kiely has confirmed that he is planning without his 10-strong contingent from the All Ireland club hurling finalists for Saturday’s semi final in Thurles against Tipperary. Throw-in 7.00.
“We will be giving the Na Piarsaigh players a break - they won’t be considered for Saturday,” the Limerick manager confirmed this Monday.
All bar one of the remainder of his 43-man panel are available for selection.
”We are as good as we have been all year - we have only a few knocks that will be gone by Saturday. Darragh O’Donovan is going to return to training this week hopefully and obviously won’t be involved on Saturday but it’s good to see him get back on the pitch with a hurley in his hand - his recovery has gone extremely well and he got a lot of physical work done in the meantime so he is in great shape just to get some hurling into him,” explained John Kiely.
While the Doon man won’t be involved, there is better news on Barry Nash (knee) and Graeme Mulcahy (concussion).
“Barry Nash is fully back in training - he has a number of weeks training and he played a full match with us on Saturday and he is 100%. Graeme Mulcahy is back from his return to play protocols - he went through the procedures set out and came through with no setbacks and he trained last Thursday and played with us on Saturday, so he is 100%,” Kiely outlined.
Tipperary are the hot favourites to beat Limerick and win the league title – the men in green are listed as a 9/4 chance to beat the 2/5 favourites on Saturday.
“Look at the four teams that are left in it - Kilkenny have always hoped to win the league and have won lots of league titles; in Wexford Davy (Fitzgerald) has made no secret of the fact that he wants to be in the final and Michael Ryan made it clear that he wants to be in the final and to complete the quartet we are very focused on trying to get to the final,” said the Limerick manager.
He added: “I think there are four teams that are very real in their ambitions to get to the final and there should be two full-on encounters”.
Limerick and Tipperary haven’t met in league hurling since 2010.
Michael Ryan’s Tipperary won three and lost two group games before beating Dublin last Sunday in their snow delayed quarter final.
”They have been very impressive, without pushing it - they rotated their panel in a big way and tried out a lot of players. They showed a great capacity to look after the opposition teams,” said Kiely.
“They got to the league final last year and the fact that they didn’t win the title means that we are expecting a very tough battle on Saturday. For us it’s about picking out our best performance and concerning our on own game to try play as best as we possibly can and see where we go from there.”
The Limerick manager gave his players a rest period after sudden death frees were needed after 100-minutes failed to find a winner in the St Patricks weekend Bank Holiday Monday quarter final with Clare.
“We didn’t go back until Thursday night after the Monday and they needed it all - it was a long, long evening’s hurling and took a bit of time to recover from to be honest. They should be very fresh for this weekend.”