Kiely likely to experiment for trip to Westmeath 

Limerick hurling manager John Kiely.

FRESH from their return from a warm weather training camp in Portugal, Limerick hurlers are set to take a giant step towards qualification for the knock-out stages of the Allianz National Hurling League when they take on Westmeath at Mullingar’s Cusack Park on Sunday (2pm). 

With only one defeat (Cork) and a couple of comfortable wins (Clare and Galway), John Kiely’s charges are currently third in the Division 1A league standings. 

Cork and Clare are ahead of Limerick, but with the latter expected to win both their remaining fixtures – also home to Wexford – the table will be much altered before the end of the regular series of matches on March 19. 

The outcome of Sunday’s other Cusack Park (Ennis) fixture – Clare versus Galway – will also be of interest to Limerick supporters, as will the result from Páirc Uí Chaoimh where Cork host Wexford. 

Unlike last year, where the top teams in Division 1 A and B played a straight final, two teams from each group this time around will advance to semi-finals. 

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Kiely is likely to announce an experimental team when the line-up is confirmed on Friday night.  

Colin Coughlan, Fergal O’Connor, Conor Boylan, Jimmy Quilty, Adam English, Aaron Costello, Jimmy Quilty, Oisín O’Reilly, and Donnacha Ó Dálaigh are just some of those that management are expected to select for starting positions, resting regulars Seán Finn, William O’Donoghue, Tom Morrissey, and Kyle Hayes (enforced).

Captain Declan Hannon is in line to make a reappearance following a nasty finger injury at the weekend. 

Westmeath have suffered three heavy defeats so far in the pennant competition, most recently at the hands of table toppers Cork. 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner afterwards, their manager Joe Fortune was honest is his assessment of what’s ahead. 

“It isn’t going to get any easier with Limerick and Galway to come, and the likelihood of a relegation match after that. If we can learn from these games, hopefully we will be ready for whatever is at the end of this league.”