Hurling & Camogie

Blow for Limerick as Darragh O’Donovan set to miss Clare clash

“It’s a calf injury. We just want to make sure he gets back fully so we’re working hard on it, so is he, but for the moment, he won’t be available for the first two games.”

Tom Phelan, seen here taking on Limerick's Kyle Hayes and Darragh O'Donovan, was Kilkenny stand-out performer on the day Picture by Seamus Loughran
Darragh O'Donovan and Kyle Hayes of Limerick track back. Picture by Seamus Loughran

Limerick have been dealt a major blow as Darragh O’Donovan has been ruled out for their opening Munster Hurling Championship games against Clare and Tipperary.

The All-Star midfielder suffered a calf injury in training last month, two days before he was due to start against Tipp in the league.

While it was hoped he would recover in time for their April 21st opener in Ennis, the strain has been slow to heal.

“Darragh O’Donovan’s injury is very slow in responding and he’ll be ruled out for the first two games. He won’t be available,” said Treaty manager John Kiely at the launch of the ‘Win a Home in Adare’ fundraiser.

“It’s a calf injury. We just want to make sure he gets back fully so we’re working hard on it, so is he, but for the moment, he won’t be available for the first two games.”

29/7/2018 Limericks Dan Morrissey    Picture Seamus Loughran
29/7/2018 Limericks Dan Morrissey Picture Seamus Loughran

His fellow All-Stars Dan Morrissey and Kyle Hayes are expected to be available for selection, while defenders Mike Casey and Fergal O’Connor have returned to training after fulfilling a 10-day concussion recovery period.

“We’re hoping that everybody else will be available, fingers crossed, come the 21st,” Kiely added. “But we’ve a bit more work to do so you never know from night to night when you’re going to lose somebody.”

Limerick have yet to train at their Gaelic Grounds home this year as the pitch remains in the latter stages of remedial works.

Amid heavy rainfall and a forecast for more over the coming week, it’s unclear how much preparation time the All-Ireland champions will get there before welcoming Tipp in three weeks.

“We haven’t got back in there yet but it is making a lot of progress,” said Kiely. “I’m actually hoping to get in there now once we’re finished here to have a walk through it again.

“I’ll know more once I’ve been in to walk it but at the minute, with the conditions the way they are and the forecast for next week, everywhere is under pressure. It’s as simple as that so we’re not alone.

“I know every effort is being made by the groundsmen to make sure that it’s fully ready for the 28th. When we get in there in advance of that is uncertain at this stage.”

Kiely was at O’Moore Park to witness Clare dismantle Tipperary in the league semi-final.

“They were very, very good. Very, very solid. It was a top-class performance from them. They’re in a very good place obviously, in the League final as well.

“Listen, that’s them. As far as I’m concerned, our focus is solely on us and our preparations for the 21st right now. It’s about ourselves and getting ourselves as right as we possibly can be.”

With so much pressure on training facilities, Kiely believes Limerick’s plans to develop a centre of excellence are key to accommodating the GAA’s integration project with the Camogie Association and LGFA.

JP McManus at Croke Park with John Kiely lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup
Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates with businessman JP McManus and the Liam MacCarthy Cup after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile (Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE)

A 95-acre site has been acquired at Crecora, near Patrickswell, with the assistance of the McManus family. The aim is to develop a 10-pitch facility, including two all-weather surfaces and Munster’s first indoor dome venue.

The project will cost north of €20million to realise, with the ‘Win a House in Adare’ draw to cover around €1.5million of that price tag.

“It’s going to be a very expensive project to bring to fruition,” said Kiely, “but at the same time, we have to match our ambition on the pitch with our ambition off the pitch.

“With projects like that, it sends out the right message to all the young girls and participants in camogie and ladies Gaelic football across county Limerick that we are 100% going to drive forward with this integration project and when the time comes, the facilities will be there for them.”