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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019

21 players to focus on Fitzgibbon final over hurling league this weekend

John McGrath, Tony Kelly and Donal Burke are among the high-profile players who won’t be involved with their counties.

A NUMBER OF inter-county players will miss Allianz Hurling League action this weekend due to the Fitzgibbon Cup final.

pjimage John McGrath, Tony Kelly and Donal Burke Source: Inpho

UL and DCU clash in the Fitzgibbon final in Mallow on Saturday at 3pm, with both squads largely made up of inter-county talent.

With a full spate of hurling league games fixed for the following day, it was a possibility that some players could see action twice in the space of 24 hours.

However, most county managers have taken the considered approach to allow their UL and DCU players focus fully on the third-level decider this weekend.

UL are warm favourites to lift their sixth title on Saturday, with inter-county players from Clare, Limerick and Tipperary in Gary Kirby’s ranks.

Tipperary boss Michael Ryan said on Saturday that John McGrath, Jason Forde, Barry Heffernan and Paul Maher won’t be involved with the Premier against Kilkenny on Sunday.

Limerick’s John Kiely confirmed their five UL players – Seán Finn, Gearóid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, Barry Murphy, Pat Ryan – won’t be traveling to Antrim for the Division 1B game.

John McGrath UL forward John McGrath Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Clare have already secured a league quarter-final berth, and joint-manager Donal O’Connor indicated they’d be doing without Conor Cleary, David Fitzgerald, Tony Kelly and Ian Galvin for Sunday’s trip to Wexford Park.

On the DCU side of things, Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Westmeath and Wexford are the counties affected.

Brian Cody said on Sunday that Conor Delaney and John Donnelly will be given a free pass for Kilkenny’s home game against Tipperary, while Dublin’s Eoghan O’Donnell, Donal Burke and Fergal Whitely will not be part of Pat Gilroy’s Dublin squad to play Galway.

Eoghan O'Donnell DCU and Dublin full-back Eoghan O'Donnell Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Wexford have two players involved with Eoin Roche’s team – Paudie Foley and Aaron Maddock – while Waterford’s sole representative is Patrick Curran. It’s likely both counties will follow suit, although they haven’t confirmed it yet.

The Fitzgibbon final was traditionally played on a football-only weekend in the past, but the condensed league this year means it must run on a hurling weekend.

Last weekend UCD’s Conor McCarthy (Monaghan), Jack Barry and Barry O’Sullivan (both Kerry) were given Sunday off following their Sigerson Cup success 24 hours earlier.

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Kevin O'Brien

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