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 with the goalkeepers on Monday.
Today, the midfield pairings are considered.
For William O’Donohue, a third successive All-Star nomination eventually resulted in an award in December as the Na Piarsaigh man was honoured for his consistent dominance in the middle of the park.
O’Donoghue so often sets the tone for this Limerick side in terms of aggression and determination, routinely disarming the opposition threat, as seen with his battles with Jamie Barron. Robbed of an award in 2020, he is right in the argument for the best midfielder in the game right now.
Alongside him in that debate is teammate Darragh O’Donovan who has taken his game to a new level over the past 12 months. Lost his place in the side to O’Donoghue in 2019 but recovered it a year later with Cian Lynch’s switch to #11.
The only one of Limerick’s 2020 All-Ireland winning XV not to receive an All-Star nomination, the Doon man seemed intent on rectifying that last summer, beginning the year with a goal against Cork in the Munster semi-final before an otherworldly performance in Croke Park against Waterford. Like O’Donoghue, was finally rewarded with an All-Star in 2021.
An unrivalled duo.
An irresistible force for the U21s in their run to the 2017 All-Ireland championship, Robbie Hanley hasn’t yet hit those heights for the senior side. There have been glimpses for Kiely’s side but he has really stepped up in recent months with Kilmallock and if he can carry that form into the county set up, he can push the aforementioned duo all the way.
Cian O’Donovan‘s arrival onto the scene has seen his brother relocate to centre back on the Doon team with the younger sibling improving year on year. A chance of the same happening on the Limerick team seems a way off as of yet however.
Patrick Kirby was named at midfield for the Limerick U20s last year but the son of Gary more often than not operates in the inside forward line for Patrickswell. However the man he partnered in that U20s team last year, Jimmy Quilty, is another midfielder that is blossoming into a bona fide star at midfield. Very similar to O’Donoghue in terms of power with an ability to play in a number of positions. One for the future.
Rory Duff is another of the new breed with the Mungret St Pauls man one of the key cogs in the Premier Intermediate Champions machine. The Harty Cup winner is equally adept at running through players as he is evading them. Will be a part of Kiely’s thoughts going forward.
Plenty of the options for wing back in the likes of Cathal Downes, Ronan Connolly and Josh Considine are also equally as comfortable at 8/9.
While a certain Cian Lynch was Hurler of the Year at midfield in 2018….