Hassett is back in Kerry team


NATIONAL LEAGUE TEAM NEWS AND CONGRESS COUNTDOWN: Liam Hassett will make his first start on the Kerry team for over a year in Sunday's Allianz Football League Division Two semi-final against Meath. A serious knee injury sidelined Hassett throughout last year's championship and the league to date but manager Páidí Ó Sé is now satisfied with his recovery.

Hassett was believed to be a few weeks off full fitness but he has been playing for his club Laune Rangers in recent weeks and also made a late appearance in Kerry's last league defeat to Louth.

After playing such a key role in Kerry's All-Ireland success of 2000, Hassett's absence last year was widely perceived to have restricted Kerry's forward options and his return is particularly well timed now that Maurice Fitzgerald appears to have no interest in playing championship football this summer.

Hassett is named at full forward, taking over from the injured Dara Ó Cinnéide, who started in the position against Louth. Other changes have Séamus Moynihan returning to full back in place of Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Marc Ó Sé (another nephew of Páidí) starting at wing back in place of Tom O'Sullivan, and Séamus Scanlon taking over from Kenneth Dillon at midfield.

Declan Quill starts in attack instead of Seán O'Sullivan, and fit-again Mike Frank Russell replaces Ian Twiss in the right corner.

Laois, who take on Armagh in the other Division Two semi-final at Longford, will again be without wing back Joe Higgins because of an ankle ligament injury. But Ian Fitzgerald returns after missing the last few rounds with a rib injury.

Mayo will tonight name their team to face Tyrone in the Division One semi-final at Enniskillen. Noel Connelly (Achilles tendon) and Trevor Mortimer (finger) are ready to return.

In hurling, Limerick make five team changes for their quarter-final against Clare in Thurles. The most significant alteration to the side which eased past Derry last Sunday is the return of full back TJ Ryan, who missed that game with a shoulder injury. That clears the way for Stephen Lucey to return to midfield in place of Paul Carey.

Joe Quaid returns instead of Albert Shanahan - maintaining Limerick's rotation policy of goalkeepers - and Damien Reale also returns for Jack Foley in the full-back line. Peter Lawlor comes in for Clem Smith at right half back. Ollie Moran gets the nod over his brother James as right half forward.

Clare will finalise their team tonight. Niall Gilligan (hamstring injury) is again unlikely to start, but Ollie Baker will start, while Gearóid Considine, David Hoey and Conor Plunkett are all injury concerns.

Offaly make just one definite change for the relegation play-off against Meath from the side that beat Wexford last weekend, with Mick O'Hara taking over from Joe Brady at wing back. There is a vacancy at wing forward as manager Fr Tom Fogarty awaits a fitness report on Johnny Dooley.

KERRY (SF v Meath): D O'Keeffe; E Galvin, S Moynihan, M McCarthy; J Sheehan, T Ó Sé, M Ó Sé; D Ó Sé, S Scanlon; D Quill, N Kennelly, E Brosnan; M F Russell, L Hassett, A Mac Gearailt. Subs: D Murphy, S O'Sullivan, I Twiss, F Kelliher, D Daly, K Dillon, K Lynch, J Crowley, B O'Shea.

LIMERICK (SH v Clare): J Quaid; D Reale, TJ Ryan, S McDonagh; P Lawlor, B Geary, M Foley; C Carey, S Lucey; O Moran, S O'Connor, B Foley; J Butler, B Begley, M Keane.

OFFALY (SH v Meath): S Byrne; D Moran, J Errity, JP O'Meara; M O'Hara, H Rigney, N Claffey; Barry Whelahan, W Comerford; AN Other, G Hanniffy, B Murphy; R Hanniffy, Brian Whelahan, B Carroll.

A sparkling display from Robbie Dowling helped Kilkenny to an easy 3-16 to 2-0 win over Wexford in the Leinster Vocational Schools senior hurling championship game at New Ross yesterday.

SCORERS: Kilkenny (R Dowling 1-10, J Nolan 1-1, P Brannigan 1-0, A McCarthy, PJ Delaney, J Broderick, K Nolan, P O'Loughlin 0-1 each); Wexford (K Rossiter, D White 1-0 each).