Shannon wait on fitness checks


All-Ireland League champions Shannon will wait until later in the week to name a team for their first league match of the season against 20 to 1 outsiders Dungannon.

A number of players have missed training including winger John Lacey and prop John Hayes, who both had flu. Injuries to full back Jason Hayes, centre Alan McGrath, second row Kieran Maher and wing Alan Thompson have also made Shannon's beginning to the championship a little more precarious than they might have liked.

Young Munster are also flu struck with four players affected along with the injured Peter Boland who has a hamstring injury. They too must wait and see before finally selecting for their opener against Garryowen on Sunday.

Still in Munster Cork Constitution will miss Kenny Murphy at full back but they hope to have him fit in a week or so. David O'Brien fills the number 15 slot against Terenure while front row Ian Murray is also rested due to injury. Cork Con are also hopeful that their overseas New Zealand player Roger Newall in the second row can add another dimension in the pack.

Blackrock, who travel to St Mary's would probably have wished the season to start sometime after Christmas as they are badly riddled with injury. Mick O'Neill, Nicky Assaf, Brian Carey, Huby Kos and Michael Jackson are all struggling with fitness against a club who can boast five current international players.

In Division Two City of Derry travel to Cork to face the students at UCC. Their main recruit over the summer also comes with a reputation. New Zealander Eugene Martin at out-half has played twice in the Ulster league and makes his AIL league debut. Martin played for North Harbour against the Irish Development squad during the Irish side's tour last summer.

Divison Three side Bohemians must do without their captain Jim Culhane after he was handed a six-month ban following a game against Garryowen during which he was sent off for a stamping incident. The ban represents a major blow to the promotion prospects of the side as Bohemians have lost out by one point over the last two years. In effect Culhane could miss the entire league season for his club, who play their first match against Highfield on Saturday.

Highfield also have promotional aspirations and retain the services of all of last year's team bar one player. The addition of Leo Murphy, Alan Kelleher and Glen Jackson have strengthened the squad along with the emergence of under-20 players Rory Coogan and Andrew Morrisy.