ALL roads lead to the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Friday evening for the meeting of Clare and Limerick in the Munster Minor Hurling Championship semi-final.
Following an impressive victory over Tipperary last time out, there are high hopes that the Banner side can qualify for the provincial final for the first time in over a decade.
“We saw Limerick play Kilkenny two weeks ago and they are a very physical imposing side. They are backboned by members of the Ard Scoil Rís team, which reached the All-Ireland Colleges final and if they get on top, it will be difficult to beat them,” commented team mentor Gerry O’Connor this week.
The Éire Óg man is joint manager of the side with Scariff’s Donal Moloney and the backroom team also includes Paul Kinnerk, who is the team trainer, Eamonn Fennessy and Jimmy Browne.
There is a big concern about the fitness of forward Alan Mulready from Sixmilebridge.
“He picked up an ankle injury and at this stage he is very doubtful. He will have a fitness test later in the week,” O’Connor explained.
Another panellist, Tomás McNamara from Whitegate, is carrying a hand injury and will also have a fitness test later this week.
The biggest concern in the lead up to the tie has been the involvement of so many of the panel in exams.
“Eighteen have been doing the Leaving Certificate and some won’t be finished until lunchtime on Friday. It has hampered our preparations. It’s not fair on the players to be in this situation.
“Of course, we want to do well but exams are first and that’s the way it is,” explained O’Connor.
While the starting line-up won’t be finalised until nearer match time, Ronan Taaffe, Paul Flanagan, the team captain, Seadna Morey, Enda Boyce, Kevin Lynch, Stephen O’Halloran, Tony Kelly, Paudge Collins, David O’Halloran and Niall Arthur will be in the starting line-up.
Declan Hannon, one of the stars of the Adare senior side last year, Alan Dempsey, John Fitzgibbon, Shane Dowling, Mark Ryan and Mark Carmody are some of those who will be in the Limerick line-up.
In their only outing in the competition, Limerick struggled to overcome Kerry but Clare were also made to battle by the Kingdom outfit.
However, the fact that Clare have also played Waterford, whom they lost to in round one, and Tipperary, should be in their favour and should help them to progress to a July 11 final date against Cork or Waterford, who play their semi-final on Saturday.