ALL-Ireland final hero from 2013, Domhnall O’Donovan looks set to be named at corner-back, the position he starred in two years ago, for Sunday’s opening game in this season’s league campaign against Galway at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
The Clonlara man’s absence from the 2014 championship side was one of the big talking points of the year. He has played in most of their games to date this year and has impressed.
Darach Honan, Peter Duggan and Jamie Shanahan won’t play any part in this weekend’s game and are unlikely to see much action in the coming weeks due to injury.
The team to take on Galway is expected to be along the lines of that which faced Waterford in a behind-closed-doors challenge game in Sixmilebridge last Saturday night.
David McInerney and Brendan Bugler didn’t start that game but both are expected to feature this week.
Saturday’s challenge ended in a draw, 4-18 for Waterford to Clare’s 3-21. The home county led 3-12 to 1-10 at half-time, before making wholesale changes for the second half.
Clare’s starting team was: Pat Kelly; Domhnall O’Donovan, Cian Dillon, Jack Browne; Seadna Morey, Conor Ryan, Pat O’Connor; Colin Ryan, Conor Cleary; Pat Donnellan, Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin; John Conlon, Shane O’Donnell, David Reidy.
In recent games Brendan Bugler, an All-star wing-back in 2013, has been operating at midfield and could well be named as midfield partner to either Colin Ryan or Colm Galvin.
All-Ireland winning captain, Pat Donnellan is also like to be given a new role and is expected to line out at wing-forward, where he has operated in recent games.
Players who didn’t start in Saturday’s game against Waterford and who are expected to challenge strongly for inclusion in the first 15 this week include Aaron Cunningham, Conor McGrath and Cathal O’Connell.
Galway captured the Walsh Cup when they scored a two-point win over Dublin at Croke Park last Saturday evening. A James Regan goal, two minutes from the end of normal time, proved decisive for the Tribesmen in their 1-22 to 1-20 victory.
They won’t have the services of Joe Canning or Conor Cooney this week due to injury but their league hopes received a timely boost last week when Iarla Tannian returned from injury for his first game since last November and he is expected to play some part in Sunday’s clash.
Colm Callinan (goalkeeper), Fergal Moore, Johnnie Coen, David Collins, Joseph Cooney, Padraig Brehony and Jonathon Glynn are some of the players expected to be named in Anthony Cunningham’s starting line-up.
A share of the spoils resulted when the teams clashed in the final game of the group stage last year. The two very committed teams went all out for victory and it’s safe to say that the commitment from both sides will be every bit as strong this time out, as both are set to put down a marker as to their plans for 2015.
Clare will take on Galway at 2pm on Sunday.