We look at the strength in depth of John Kiely’s squad and potential outsiders ahead of their season opener this weekend.
The Limerick senior hurlers kick off their 2022 season this Sunday when they take on Kerry in the Munster Hurling Cup this Sunday afternoon.
John Kiely’s side haven’t played since their awesome All-Ireland final win over Cork last August.
In the meantime, Kilmallock, Mungret St Pauls and Caherline were crowned county champions in some exhilarating club championships.
As such, some players may have caught the eye of Kiely who is yet to reveal his hand in terms of a squad for the 2022 season.
With twelve All-Stars, there is little room for outsiders but there is a chance for all with Kiely unafraid to make the hard calls in his term as manager.
And ahead of the season opener, we assess at the options available to Kiely, starting yesterday with the goalkeepers.
Today, the full back line is looked at.
Heading into the start of the 2020 season, there was little debate surrounding the status of the Limerick full back line that had seen each of the three members once again nominated for All-Stars.
The established trio of Sean Finn, Mike Casey and Richie English were the apparent championship starters with Finn already making his case as one of the best corner backs off all time adding his second All-Star.
But the Bruff man was the sole man standing once the season resumed in October with English and Casey both suffering season ending knee injuries.
Few would have expected Dan Morrissey, who was an All-Star at wing back in 2018 and Barry Nash, a converted corner back, to be chosen alongside Finn with the likes of Aaron Costello, Jerome Boylan and Tom Condon to choose from.
But that’s the way Kiely went for and both were rewarded with a second All-Ireland medal and All-Star nominations.
In 2021, English was named at full back for both Munster championship outings but with the side struggling at half time in the final, Morrissey was introduced. His impact was immediate and he remained in the side for the rest of the year.
Finn collected a fourth All-Star while Nash was named to the team for the first time. Had Morrissey started either Munster match, his selection would have been mandatory but with twelve teammates selected, Morrissey was very unlucky to miss out.
But nonetheless, heading into the 2022 season, that trio seems highly unlikely to be budged, each bringing a different aspect to the fold, Nash as a converted forward, Morrissey the powerhouse and Finn the complete corner back and best defender in the game.
Mike Casey‘s latest unfortunate setback means he is unlikely to regain his starting berth which he has been unable to compete for since suffering injury in 2020. Richie English returned to the fold last year and despite having an off day against Tipperary, the 2018 All-Star would be a guarantee in any other side.
Elsewhere, Jerome Boylan is approaching his mid twenties but hasn’t made the squad for an All-Ireland final yet. Aaron Costello on the other hand has been waiting on the sidelines in both 2020 and 2021. This year he was exceptional for Kilmallock in midfield which could further his chances with Kiely keen on ball playing defenders.
I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Doon corner back Chris Thomas for the last 18 months or so and the East man could easily feature for the county side this year such have been his performances for club and county at underage levels.
Clubmate Thomas Hayes was a a member of the panel last year and has been the most consistent full back in the SHC since Casey’s injury.
Kilmallock duo Liam English and Dan Joy will be somewhat hampered by their sides journey to the Munster final that means they were unavailable for a call up. But their performances will not have gone unnoticed. Joy is an U21 All-Ireland winner with Limerick in 2017 while English has been as good in the other corner.
Padraig Hartnett was another who impressed in the SHC and was full back for the U20 side last summer in the Munster final. Conor Houlihan was excellent for Na Piarsaigh at the back filling in for the absent Casey.
Barry Duff was exceptional for Mungret in their run to the PIHC championship with his versatility proving useful for Liam Cronin’s men, operating between corner back and midfield for the City side. Was a Munster minor winner at midfield in 2020. His ability to play across the park could see him fast tracked into the senior set up but it is likely he will be given that exposure in the U20 ranks this year.
Fergal O’Connor was another picking up county honours, helping Effin to the Intermediate title.
Let us know in the comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram who else should be included.