Limerick hurlers open with Antrim

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THE Limerick senior hurlers open their National Hurling league campaign this Sunday with a first round tie against Antrim at the Gaelic Grounds.
John Allen’s side will be near to full strength for the game with players who played Fitzgibbon Cup this weekend expected to be fit for duty.

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“We have eight or nine lads involved with Fitzgibbon Cup this week. We hope to play as strong a team as possible on Sunday. We need to get a good start to the competitive season” Limerick manager John Allen told PostSport this week.
Limerick have played some challenge games in recent weeks. A loss to Cork was backed up with a win over the Limerick under 21 panel. With Limerick once more in Divison 1B, the quest as always, is to get back playing at the top level of the game.
“We don’t really know what is going to happen with the league next year. Even if we win it this season, there is talks of 1A becoming an eight team division for next season, so you just never know. All I can say is that playing in Division 1B is a distinct disadvantage compared to playing in 1A, when it comes to championship time” Allen added.
Limerick face Antrim this weekend, (throw in at 2pm on Sunday at the Gaelic Grounds) before facing Carlow on March 10th, Dublin on March 16th and Offaly on March 24th. The final league game for Limerick takes place on March 31st against Wexford.
With five games in such a short space of time, Limerick’s strength and depth will be tested. Allen has called upon new faces Cathal King, (Na Piarsaigh), David Reidy (Dromin/Athlacca) and Adrian Breen (Na Piarsaigh) in the aforementioned challenge games and with the inclusion of Seamus Hickey, who missed last season’s league, Limerick are well set for the start of Spring hurling.
Speaking about Seamus Hickey and his new forward role, Allen commented that Hickey was too good to leave out of the side.
“Seamus is a great player. He is too good to leave out, but we also have six strong backs from last season too. We have four strong options, (including Hickey) for midfield, we can only play two, so Seamus has been operating in the half forward line. Because the game is so fluid now, the half forward line is the line that has to work the most. They are forwards in attack, but can be defenders as soon as the ball is lost or even under puck outs.” Allen continued.
With Hickey operating in the half forward line, Dowling, Mulcahy, Downes, Hannon, Tobin and Moran reads like strong options are at Limerick’s disposal this season.
Finally, with all the talk of the poor attendances at the Inter Provincials, John Allen feels that the finals do have a part to play in the GAA calendar.
“I think the powers that be need to find a proper date for the inter pros. I can see what an honour it is for the player. To be selected from your county is a major achievement. There is no real training so players are going to be available, however, the choice of weekend might not be best at present. The only thing for me is to make sure the Inter provincial weekend does not conflict with club games. If the choice comes between clubs and province, the club has to win every time”