OPINION | Opportunity beckons for fresh faces as the intercounty season swings back into gear

With 2021 firmly in the rearview window, the brief window of rest afforded to the Limerick intercounty teams comes to an end in the coming weeks with the return of the McGrath and Munster Hurling Cups.

After the postponement of those competitions last year, Limerick will enter both as defending champions after capturing the titles on the same evening in the Gaelic Grounds in January 2020.

Billy Lee’s footballers are up first as they travel to the Kingdom to take on Kerry on Wednesday January 5 in the McGrath Cup. They then welcome Tipperary to Mick Neville Park on Sunday in their second round game.

Lee has named an experimental looking side for the contest with plenty of new faces embedded throughout. Galtee Gaels Maurice O’Sullivan is rewarded for his fine club form with a place in the full back line with Jim Liston making a first start in a number of years.

After helping Kildimo Pallaskenry to the senior ranks, Peter Nash and Tony McCarthy are both named from the start with teammate Liam O’Sullivan among the substitutes.

Dara Noonan makes his first ever start for Limerick alongside Gerald Griffins teammates Liston and Colm McSweeney.

Elsewhere, Darragh Ranahan (Ballysteen), John Hayes (St Kierans), and Rory O’Brien (Fr Caseys) are named in their first intercounty squad after impressing in the SFC.

Those new players will look to fill the void after a number of departures from the squad were confirmed with Danny Neville, Tommie Childs, Seamus O’Carroll, David Connolly, Ger Stack, Padraig Scanlon and Comac Roche all unavailable to Billy Lee and his side.

Nonetheless, one mans loss is another mans gain and that will be the hope for Lee and co who have clearly looked for an infusion of youth into a relatively settled squad.

Kerry and Tipperary will give a huge indication as to who is ready for the rigours of the intercounty scene with Longford in the league opener scheduled for the last Sunday of the month.

22 August 2021; Cian Lynch of Limerick during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Cork and Limerick in Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Elsewhere, John Kiely’s All-Ireland champions will return to action on January 14 when they welcome the winners of Tipperary and Kerry in the Munster Hurling Cup semi-final.

Kiely’s men have won the competition in two of the past three years, going on to win the All-Ireland on both occasions.

The Galbally native has yet to reveal his cards in terms of squad selections but there are sure to be a number of new faces added to allow for freshness among the back to back All-Ireland champions.

Last year, Colin Coughlan, Cathal O’Neill, Thomas Hayes and Barry Murphy were all called up to the senior squad. Hayes and Murphy were particularly impressive for Doon in their march to the 2020 SHC final with Kilmallock duo Micheal Houlihan and Oisin O’Reilly likely to follow suit after their Munster final this weekend.

12 December 2021; Micheal Houlihan of Kilmallock scores a free during the AIB Munster GAA Hurling Senior Club Championship Semi-Final match between Kilmallock and Midleton at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Teammates Liam English and Ciaran O’Connor could also be in line for call ups after impressing with the Balbec.

Elsewhere, Doon’s Adam English is poised for the senior intercounty ranks alongside a number of his U20 teammates who helped Limerick to the Munster final last summer.

The addition of those players will boost an already star studded squad that contains a pair of Hurler of the Year recipients and seventeen All-Stars.

For Kiely, one area that will demand attention is that of the number 15 jersey with Peter Casey out with an ACL injury. Graeme Mulcahy, who wore the jersey with aplomb for so many years, is the obvious replacement but the likes of O’Neill, Pat Ryan and possibly English will have their say.

It is an intriguing conundrum for Kiely and his management team and the Munster cup will provide the first glimpse into how they will approach it with Wexford awaiting in the league on February 6.

It remains to be seen who can make their mark for the footballers or hurlers but one thing is for sure however, the intercounty season is well and truly back.

Social Sharing

Posted in

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” Will Rogers

As the dust settles on the Limerick Senior Footballers season, the review of same has begun. By any measurement, it was a year which delivered ...
Read More

Kiely’s Top 10 | #6 | Heroics in Croke Park as Kiely’s youthful charges seal final spot after extra-time epic with Cork

The series continues as we look back on a memorable 2018 All-Ireland semi-final as Limerick overturned a deficit ...
Read More

Shine Happy With Win But Says Limerick Still Have Things To Work On

Limerick booked their place in the TG4 All Ireland Junior Semi Final with a comprehensive win over New ...
Read More

Injury Update! Peter Casey & Barry Murphy Back, Cian Lynch on Track!

Limerick hurling manager John Kiely issued a hugely positive injury update last night with confirmation that Peter Casey, ...
Read More

Kiely’s Top 10 | #7 | Limerick blitz Tipp in third quarter from another stratosphere for three-in-a-row

Our series continues today with a watershed victory for Kiely’s youthful charges in 2018. With John Kiely reaching ...
Read More

WATCH: Limerick cruise into All-Ireland semi final with comfortable win over New York

Graham Shine's Limerick ladies football side are into the last four of the TG4 LGFA Junior Championship following ...
Read More

Shefflin’s Galway Stand in Limerick’s Path to All Ireland Final – Ticket Details

Limerick & Galway will clash in the 2022 All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final Limerick will have to go through Galway ...
Read More

Kiely’s Top 10 | #8 | Limerick end 45-year wait for Kilkenny win with battling 2018 display

Our series continues today with a watershed victory for Kiely's youthful charges in 2018. With John Kiely reaching ...
Read More