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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

6 big selection decisions for Clare and Limerick ahead of Munster hurling quarter-final

Rival bosses Davy Fitzgerald and TJ Ryan are hatching their plots.

Davy Fitzgerald is plotting another potential championship downfall for Paudie O'Brien and Limerick.
Davy Fitzgerald is plotting another potential championship downfall for Paudie O'Brien and Limerick.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated at 19.00

1. Who’ll play in goals for Limerick?

It seems like this one is a done deal already, with Barry Hennessy set to replace Nickie Quaid between the sticks.

Quaid is out with a collarbone injury, breaking his run of successive championship games since 2011.

Aaron Murphy appeared to be second-choice goalie at the conclusion of the Allianz Hurling League campaign but Hennessy is set to be confirmed as TJ Ryan’s number 1 for the Thurles clash.

Hennessy was a key member of the Kilmallock team that went all the way to an All-Ireland club final in March but is yet to see game time with the Shannonsiders.

Former U21 shotstopper Murphy made one League appearance in 2014 and the same again this year but looks like being edged out by Hennessy.

In front of him, Stephen Walsh is tipped for a recall to Limerick full-back line after missing the 2014 campaign, where he’ll operate alongside full-back Richie McCarthy and Seamus Hickey.

2. Who’ll replace Conor McGrath in the Clare attack?

Clare sources have indicated that McGrath is “99 per cent” certain not to start against Limerick next Sunday.

The Cratloe hitman suffered a hamstring injury in the Banner County’s relegation playoff against Kilkenny in March and has struggled to regain full fitness.

Former U21 star Cathal ‘Tots’ O’Connell replaced McGrath in that Nowlan Park defeat but manager Davy Fitzgerald may be unwilling to gamble with another diminutive forward in what’s expected to be an abrasive showdown.

Source: HurlingGoals/YouTube

David Reidy is expected to start in one corner and that leaves the door open for another player to take possession of the number 15 shirt.

Fitzgerald does have a number of attacking options to choose from, with O’Connell, Aaron Cunningham and Bobby Duggan waiting patiently in the wings for their chance to impress.

3. Where will Tony Kelly play?

Fitzgerald could play 2013 Hurler of the Year Kelly anywhere, such is his talent and natural hurling ability.

As the most recent reference point, Kelly flourished in a roving attacking role in the Allianz League relegation play-off defeat to Kilkenny, picking off five points from play in the second half alone at Nowlan Park.

It comes down to a choice between midfield and left-half-forward, as Kelly loves space in which to operate.

Source: HE GAA/YouTube

Tying him down to a more restricted role at centre forward could lessen the Ballyea dynamo’s impact but the smart money is on a wing-forward slot for Kelly.

Throughout his underage career and into the senior ranks, Clare hurling fans have become accustomed to the sight of Kelly streaking down the left touchline before unleashing trademark scores on the run.

4. Where will Declan Hannon play?

Hannon drifted between centre back and centre forward for Limerick during their Allianz League campaign.

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The towering Adare star scored 1-3 from centre forward against Wexford but reverted to centre back for the next outing against Offaly.

Despite a damaging defeat on home soil which scuppered Limerick’s Division 1B promotion hopes, Hannon was retained in defence for the victory over Laois, before moving back to centre forward for the League quarter-final defeat to Dublin at Croke Park.

Source: officialgaa/YouTube

The indications are Limerick’s 2013 U21 captain will stay in attack for the Clare game.

David Breen’s absence through injury robs Limerick of a proven ball-winner in their half-forward line and manager TJ Ryan will be anxious to load this line with physicality.

Hannon fits the bill, with recent challenge matches providing clear evidence that Gavin O’Mahony will man the centre back position.

5. Who will slot into the Clare midfield for Colm Galvin?

Galvin’s decision to spend the summer months in Boston robs Davy Fitzgerald of one his key men.

Club and intercounty commitments kept Galvin in Ireland in recent years – as he starred on the Clare teams that won three successive All-Ireland U21 titles from 2012-14, while also winning an All-Ireland senior medal in 2013.

But the tireless Clonlara clubman was bitten by the travel bug and decided that the time was right to embark on his travels.

Source: breakingthrough/YouTube

Galvin leaves a massive void and while Tony Kelly could play at midfield, is this a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul in an attacking sense?

Seadna Morey is another player with the energy levels that could compensate for the loss of Galvin and with Patrick Donnellan tipped to forge one half of the centrefield pairing, it’s imperative that Fitzgerald decides on the correct sidekick for his captain.

6. Will Cian Lynch make his senior championship debut?

Cian Lynch is one of our 8 young hurlers to watch in this summer’s championship. 

And manager TJ Ryan is surely tempted to chuck the former minor star in at the deep end.

Ryan wasted little time in drafting Lynch into his senior set-up after the Patrickswell man won Munster minor medals in 2013 and 2014.

Source: Damian Kelly/YouTube

The blood-line is strong as Lynch is a nephew of former Limerick stars Ciarán and Pa Carey, and a long career in the green shirt lies in store for a player who replaced injured captain Donal O’Grady in the Allianz Hurling League quarter-final defeat against Dublin.

Lynch was first sub in at Croke Park and with David Breen out injured, a slot is up for grabs in the Limerick attack.

With Paul Browne set to switch from midfield to wing-forward, Lynch could edge out Seanie Tobin in the corner.

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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