We look at the strength in depth of John Kiely’s squad and potential outsiders ahead of their League opener this weekend.
John Kiely’s Limerick hurlers are on the road this weekend as they travel to Wexford in the first round of the National Hurling League.
Silverware has already been collected in 2022 as Limerick strolled to Munster Hurling Cup success with limited fuss.
That was without the majority of last year’s All-Ireland winning XV as Kiely demonstrated the strength in depth at their disposal.
Limerick’s squad is star studded with no fewer than 17 All-Stars to choose from as well as a number of underage starlets.
Ahead of this weekend’s League game with Wexford we continue our look at that depth, with the final line of the field examined, full forward trio.
Peter Casey‘s injury means there is a genuine place to be filled in the Limerick team. Outside of the corner forward berth that Casey has left, there doesn’t seem to be much room elsewhere in the XV barring some otherworldly form or an injury.
However, while there is a gap to be filled, it also further solidifies Seamus Flanagan and Aaron Gillane as certainties to start in the championship. Gillane has been a mainstay of the side since nailing down that starting berth at the start of 2018. Flanagan was beside him for the All-Ireland win that year but lost his place to Casey in 2019. He was back in the side for the All-Ireland semi-final the following year and has been pretty much unstoppable since, winning his first All-Star in 2021.
Both compliment each other well as they can play as part of a two with another dropping out as they did to devastating effect in the All-Ireland final last year. Alternatively, they are more than capable as playing together as an orthodox inside unit.
Their movement and power makes them two of the most vaunted inside players in Ireland.
Things did not work out for Graeme Mulcahy to start last year as he lost his place in the starting XV, the Munster final aside. The 2018 All-Star was a constant feature from the bench but struggled to capture his best form. However, in the 2021 county final win over Patrickswell, Mulcahy was on fire, scoring 0-7 from play. He has to be the front runner to start in the corner come championship should Casey not be fit in time.
David Reidy, who was singled out in the half forward line, is named in the corner for the League clash with Wexford and it could be a sign of things to come.
Pat Ryan and Darren O’Connell both started each of the Munster Hurling Cup victories. Ryan was the scoring star against Kerry grabbing a pair of goals but O’Connell was in fine fettle against Clare clipping over three scores against better opposition. Ryan has been a part of the panel since 2017 and will be desperate to be given a chance from the start. O’Connell is less experienced but the duo seem to be in healthy competition from the start.
Another who started both games in the inside line was Oisin O’Reilly who returns to the squad after missing the last two All-Ireland triumphs. He wasn’t at his sparkling best in either game but should he find his SHC player of the year form, he may push Kiely’s hand.
2020 Munster Minor winning captain Adam English has unsurprisingly hit the ground running, bagging 1-2 in his debut appearances of the bench. For English, it is a case of when he starts, not if but, 2022 seems a bit too early.
His teammate on that team, Patrick O’Donovan was in scintillating form for Effin as they claimed Intermediate honours. Another who is perhaps a bit young but as a member of the panel, he is not one to pass up an opportunity.
Liam Lynch, a teammate of O’Donovan and English on that minor team seemed destined for a call up following his tremendous debut adult season for Mungret St Pauls as he propelled the city side to Premier Intermediate glory. But like Casey, the teenager suffered a knee ligament injury that will rule him out of the intercounty season.
Aidan O’Connor of Ballybrown has been the club’s main sharpshooter over the past few years and has three minor medals to his name alongside Colin Coughlan. Doesn’t appear to be a part of the plans but another good year with the City club could alter that. Willie Griffin is another who has been instrumental at club level for Adare.
Barry Murphy also deserves a mention with the Doon man seemingly the choice after Casey went down, being introduced back into the fold during the All-Ireland final. But he also suffered a knee injury that will rule him out for the foreseeable.