Ryan back to anchor defence


Gaelic Games: Darragh Ryan returns to the Wexford team for Sunday's All-Ireland hurling semi-final against Cork at Croke Park. The former All Star and Wexford captain, who missed the quarter-final win over Antrim because of a broken bone in his hand, was last night given the all-clear to line out in his customary full-back position.

It will be just the third championship start for Ryan this season, as he only returned from a longer lay-off through injury for the Leinster final against Kilkenny. He then featured in the qualifier win over Waterford where he sustained his hand injury.

His return for Sunday's game is one of two changes in personnel from the team that started against Antrim last Sunday week. Yet the narrow nature of that victory suggested some changes were on manager John Conran's mind.

So with Ryan starting at full back, David O'Connor reverts to his familiar left corner back position, and Colm Kehoe drops to the bench. Adrian Fenlon is also over the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the Antrim game and is named at right half forward - an indirect replacement for Chris McGrath.

The other changes are positional, with captain Paul Codd named at full forward and Larry Murphy at centre forward; Mitch Jordan is moved to the right corner forward position, left vacant by McGrath. Although McGrath scored the goal that helped start Wexford's fightback against Antrim, his lack of height might have been deemed a disadvantage against the powerful Cork defence.

Interest in the game appears to be particularly high in Cork as the Garda were called to Kent Railway Station in the city yesterday morning to help calm the hundreds of hurling supporters left without train tickets to travel to Dublin on Sunday. Queues had started in the early hours of the morning and all three of the special trains, which will carry 1,200 passengers, sold out long before the demand could be satisfied.

Croke Park have announced that the game is all ticket, along with the All-Ireland football quarter-final replay between Donegal and Galway in Castlebar.

Tickets for the hurling semi-final and a limited number for the football replay will be on sale today from the ticket office in Croke Park from 11.0 a.m. to 7.0 p.m. and also from Ticketmaster and the GAA website.

Tickets for Croke Park (with a 3.30 start for the seniors) cost €35 for the stands and €20 for Hill 16, while for Castlebar (5.30 throw-in) the charge is €25 for the covered stand and €20 for open seating.

Galway and Donegal have their fair share of injury concerns and the teams are not likely to be finalised until closer to Sunday. For Galway manager John O'Mahony the chief concern remains wing back Seán de Paor, who missed Monday's drawn game because of a thigh muscle strain.

For Donegal's Brian McEniff the player still most doubtful is forward Brendan Devenney, who was limping on his injured knee in the drawn game.

WEXFORD (SH v Cork): D Fitzhenry; D Guiney, D Ryan, D O'Connor; D Stamp, D Ruth, L Dunne; R McCarthy, L O'Gorman; A Fenlon, L Murphy, M Jacob; M Jordan, P Codd, R Jacob.