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Cunningham in race to be fit for Clare's All-Ireland hurling final clashes

The attacker injured a hamstring against Galway in yesterday’s semi-final in Semple Stadium.

Doubtful: Clare's Aaron Cunningham is in a race to be fit for next month's All-Ireland finals.
Doubtful: Clare's Aaron Cunningham is in a race to be fit for next month's All-Ireland finals.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

CLARE joint-manager Donal Moloney has confirmed the serious nature of Aaron Cunningham’s hamstring injury, sustained against Galway in yesterday’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling semi-final at Semple Stadium.

Cunningham (20) crumpled in pain in first half stoppage time after chasing a loose ball and had to be helped from the pitch.

The Wolfe Tones player was replaced by Cathal Malone, who went on to score two points as the Banner boys romped to a 1-16 to 0-7 success.

Cunningham has made three appearances for the Clare seniors in this year’s championship.

He replaced concussed John Conlon after 20 minutes of the Munster SHC semi-final against Cork, before coming off the bench in the qualifier victories over Laois and Wexford.

Cunningham has not featured in Clare’s last two senior outings, against Galway and Limerick, but his potential absence for the final against Cork on September 8 robs manager Davy Fitzgerald of an attacking option from his list of replacements.

Cunningham’s injury is a far more serious blow to Moloney and sidekick Gerry O’Connor, as he is also a serious doubt for the U21 decider with Antrim on September 14.

Moloney admitted: “It looks like a pretty bad hamstring injury because he was in a lot of pain. We’ll do everything in our power for him but it looked like a bad, bad injury.”

Senior

With yesterday’s tie wrapped up long before full-time, Moloney and O’Connor emptied the bench, withdrawing other senior players Shane O’Donnell, Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin and Podge Collins.

Kelly, Galvin and Collins are definite starters for Clare in the senior final on September 8, injury permitting, with O’Donnell another option from the bench.

Moloney acknowledged: “We have to recognise those guys are going day-in, day-out, you can’t expect them to hit 100% performance for 60 or 70 minutes every day, in Croke Park last week, again today – it’s not always possible.

“For some of the guys, particularly for Tony, Colm and Podge, they were really focused on today and on beating Galway – that will help them in two weeks, going into the All-Ireland (senior) final, the sort of attention they got today.”

Tribesmen

Galway boss Johnnie Kelly believes that Clare can now capable of launching a serious assault for All-Ireland honours on the double.

The Portumna stalwart said: “No disrespect to Antrim but Clare can sit back now basically and concentrate fully on the senior and they’ll have the week to prepare for the All-Ireland (u21) final and they’ll be in a good position.

“I think all the focus now will definitely go on the seniors and they’ll pursue that All-Ireland with vigour.”

Clare beat Galway to claim U21 hurling final spot

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Jackie Cahill

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