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Star forward back in the frame for Na Piarsaigh's All-Ireland club semi-final after knee injury

Shane Dowling missed their Munster club winning campaign.

STAR FORWARD SHANE Dowling has resumed full training after missing Na Piarsaigh’s Munster senior club hurling winning campaign last November and is in the frame for selection ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final on Saturday week.

Kevin Downes and Cathal King celebrate Shane Dowling celebrates Na Piarsaigh's Munster club final win with Kevin Downes. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 2016 All-Ireland kingpins face Derry’s Slaughtneil on 10 February in Parnell Park and Dowling’s availability as an attacking option would be a major boost.

Dowling hit 0-5 during their county senior final victory in Limerick over Kilmallock last October but was forced off midway through the second half of that game and subsequent scans showed he had damaged the cartilage in his right knee.

Initially it was thought a minor operation would be required and he’d return in time for the provincial decider, but during the operation the surgeon noticed further damage to the knee and he was ruled out until 2018.

Na Piarsaigh boss Shane O’Neill has revealed that Dowling is back in full training since last week and his recovery will be monitored before the game where they will bid to reach the St Patrick’s Day showpiece.

Shane O'Neill and Niall Buckley celebrate Manager Shane O'Neill celebrates Na Piarsaigh's Munster final win with Ballygunner. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“He’s coming along. He’s been back in full training from the day that he targeted which was last week. We’ll just see how it goes over the next week just to see exactly how he’s feeling himself.

“It’s been slow enough for him but he’s worked very hard to get back to his fitness. As of now we don’t know, we haven’t gone near picking our team yet.

“A fully fit Shane would obviously be on the first fifteen. He’s a big game player. Shane has performed in virtually every big game we’ve had.”

Na Piarsaigh collected their fourth Munster title in seven years last November with a Semple Stadium success over Ballygunner and Dowling is one of ten players part of Limerick boss John Kiely’s plans for the 2018 season.

Shane Dowling celebrates after the game Shane Dowling celebrates Na Piarsaigh's All-Ireland club final win in 2016. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Even without sharpshooter Dowling, the Limerick champions hit 5-41 in their two Munster club ties last season with forwards Adrian Breen (1-5), David Breen (2-0) and Peter Casey (0-3) all shining in that final victory.

Otherwise Na Piarsaigh have a full squad to pick from for the clash with Slaughtneil. They have had players like Thomas Grimes (Mary Immaculate College) and Ronan Lynch (UL) involved in Fitzgibbon Cup action in recent weeks but they will not be featuring in next week’s quarter-final ties with the focus on the All-Ireland semi-final.

Young defender Jerome Boylan, who started at corner-back against Ballygunner, was in action for Ardscoil Rís in last Saturday’s Dr Harty Cup semi-final and will be involved in a final clash against Midleton CBS the week after the Slaughtneil tie.

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Fintan O'Toole

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