Waterford have four new faces for Clare


WATERFORD WILL start Sunday’s Munster hurling semi-final against Clare with four championship newcomers across all four lines – starting with goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe, defender Stephen Daniels, midfielder Philip Mahony and then forward Gavin O’Brien.

Manager Michael Ryan has also welcomed back forward Eoin Kelly and former captain Stephen Molumphy from injury for the Thurles showdown, although defender Noel Connors hasn’t made the starting 15 as he still recovers from a bulging disc in his back.

Kelly has recovered from the hand injury picked up in a club game last month, and Molumphy has also recovered from a shoulder injury: also still missing is forward Pauric Mahony, who underwent groin surgery last month. Michael “Brick” Walsh will captain the team from centre back.

Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald is expected to release his team later today, partly as he awaits a fitness update on Seán Collins, the Cratloe player still struggling with a hamstring injury.

There is also speculation that forward Darach Honan may play some role on Sunday, having only recently returned to training after undergoing operations on both hips last autumn.

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham welcomes back Joe Canning to full forward for their Leinster hurling semi-final against Offaly in Portlaoise on Sunday, although David Collins is not included in the starting 15 as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Canning missed the goal-fest win over Westmeath with a shoulder injury, and there is also a return to the team for goalkeeper James Skehill, who has recovered from a dislocated shoulder he sustained against Waterford back in March.

It means there are three changes in total from the side that started against Westmeath, with Skehill, Canning and defender Joseph Cooney all coming in to the starting line up.

Meanwhile, Tipperary hurling manager Declan Ryan has indicated that former hurler of the year Lar Corbett would be part of his squad for their Munster hurling semi-final against Cork on Sunday week.

Corbett’s return for the Páirc Uí Chaoimh showdown will be his first competitive appearance since last September’s All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. While he did play in a recent challenge against Galway, he only acted as water carrier for the Tipperary team in their Munster SHC quarter-final win in Semple Stadium against Limerick last month, having returned to the panel less than a fortnight before the game.

Some welcome news for Galway as they go into the football qualifier draw on Monday morning is that captain Finian Hanley will be available for whoever they face on June 30th, as the shoulder injury sustained in the loss to Sligo in last Saturday’s Connacht SFC semi-final is not as bad as first feared.

However it’s further bad news for Louth with word that forwards Andy McDonnell and Derek Maguire have decided to spend the summer in the US, and will thus miss the remainder of the championship.

Manager Peter Fitzpatrick has already lost key players such as Brian White and Brian Donnelly to the US this summer, and as a result cancelled training on Monday night as only nine players were available.

Fitzpatrick has requested a meeting with the county board to discuss preparations for the qualifiers, with a full schedule of club games also due to take place before June 30th, putting further stress on players’ ability to commit to the county side.

Damien Carroll will make his first start for Meath in Sunday’s replay against Carlow. Carroll replaces the injured Paddy Gilsenan in the only change to the side that draw last Sunday, and is the sixth player to make their championship debut for Séamus McEnaneys side this year.

WATERFORD(SH v Clare): S O’Keeffe; A Kearney, L Lawlor, S Daniels; R Foley, M Walsh, P Mahony; K Moran, S Molumphy; M Shanahan, S Prendergast, E Kelly; J Mullane, S Walsh, G O’Brien.

GALWAY(SH v Offaly): J Skehill; N Donohue, K Hynes, F Moore; J Cooney, T Óg Regan, J Coen; Iarla Tannian, A Smith; D Burke, N Burke, C Donnellan; D Hayes, J Canning, C Cooney.

MEATH(SF v Carlow): D Gallagher, D Keoghan, K Reilly, B Menton, D Tobin, S McAnarney, M Burke, C Gillespie, B Meade, A Forde, D Carroll, G Reilly, B Farrell, J Sheridan, C Ward.