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Limerick looking for further improvement against Offaly

Much changed Limerick side looking to build momentum from Offaly clash

The Limerick Hurlers take on Offaly in the third round of the National Hurling League in the Gaelic Grounds tomorrow evening at 5pm. The fixture will be the curtain raiser for the footballers who entertain London at 7pm.

Manager John Kiely has rung the changes with just six players remaining from the side that eased past Kerry in the previous round with first league starts for David McCarthy, Sean Finn, William O’Donoghue and Andrew La Touche Cosgrave.

Limerick are coming into this game after a comprehensive win over Kerry beating them 6-21 to 3-8 a fortnight ago with a strong performance coming from Ronan Lynch who scored 3-11 on the day.

However, the win over Kerry is not enough to hide the fact that Limerick are set to face yet another year in Division 1B after their round one loss to Wexford. The format of 1B means that any loss is likely to condemn the team to another year in hurling purgatory. Unfortunately for Limerick that loss came in the first game of the campaign.

Their main aim now will be to get more points on the table this weekend and at least put themselves in a position to capitalise on any potential if unlikely collapse by Wexford.

Limerick are currently in third position behind leaders Wexford who are two clear at the top ahead of Galway who lead Limerick on points difference. With relegation strugglers Kerry, Offaly and Laois all that’s left for Wexford, it seems likely that they will be the team to be promoted to division 1A.

That win over Kerry followed the pattern from Limerick’s games so far this year as there was many changes and many young players included to introduce them to the speed of senior inter-county hurling.

Many players have blossomed so far this spring such as David Dempsey, Ronan Lynch, Kyle Hayes & Mike and Peter Casey. Mary I’s Limerick contingent of Darragh O’Donovan, Richie English and Cian Lynch should be brimming in confidence after securing their second Fitzgibbon Cup in a row last weekend.

It’s vital that Limerick get off to a good start against a depleted Offaly who have struggled so far in the league this season being hammered by Galway in the first round by a scoreline of 6-23 to 1-12 and being beaten by Laois in the second round on a scoreline of 1-26 to 1-20.

Offaly will be aware that the mood in the Limerick camp will be low after the opening two rounds and will be eager to give a better account of themselves that in the opening two rounds.

The faithful county need points on the board or else they could face relegation into Division 2A and that’s the last thing that Offaly manager Kevin Ryan wants as this is his first year in charge.

Despite this, Limerick should have too much talent and pace for this Offaly team and will look to lay down a marker ahead of their trip to Laois and their crucial last game against Galway.

Limerick supporters will look to the Galway test as a measure of progress for John Kiely’s side. It will also be a test of Kiely’s motivational skills to keep the players focused as this campaign is no longer about promotion but about putting in a string of performances leading up to the summer.

With only a handful of league games left before the Championship begins against Clare, expect John Kiely to look to nail his first 15 down by the Galway game. Having said that, Limerick hurling supporters need no reminder of the potential banana skin that is Offaly.

LIMERICK: David McCarthy (Glenroe); Sean Finn (Bruff), Richie McCarthy (Blackrock), Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh); Seamus Hickey (Murroe-Boher), Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Declan Hannon (Adare); Pat Ryan (Doon), William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh); Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks), David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh), James Ryan (Garryspillane); Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen), Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Seanie Tobin (Murroe-Boher). Subs: Barry Hennessy (Kilmallock), Stephen Cahill (Tournafulla), Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen), John Fitzgibbon (Adare), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Darragh O’Donovan (Doon), Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell), Dan Morrissey (Ahane), Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock), Alan Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh), Sean O’Brien (Patrickswell).

OFFALY: James Dempsey (Kinnitty); Ben Conneely (St Rynaghs), Conor Doughan (Shinrone), Michael Cleary (Shinrone); Paddy Rigney (Kinnitty), Dermot Short (St Rynaghs), Paddy Delaney (Kinnitty); Sean Ryan (Birr), Cillian Kiely (Kilcormac-Killoughey); Padraig Guinan (Drumcullen), Oisín Kelly (Belmont), Peter Geraghty (Kilcormac-Killoughey); Emmett Nolan (Birr), Shane Dooley (Tullamore), Sean Cleary (Shinrone). Subs: Eoghan Cahill (Birr), Derek Morkan (Shinrone), Enda Grogan (Kilcormac-Killoughey), Pat Camon (St Rynaghs), Conor Molloy (Coolderry), Danny Maloney (St Rynaghs), Liam Langton )Clodiagh Gaels), Tom Carroll (Seir Kieran), James Mulrooney (Seir Kieran), Adrian Cleary (Shinrone), Stephen Quirke (St Rynaghs).

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