*Conor Cleary leaves Cusack Park in agony. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
CLARE FULL BACK, Conor Cleary is in the reckoning to get a starting jersey for Sunday’s Munster senior hurling final.
Cleary was forced off in agony with thirty four minutes played in Clare’s one point win over Cork on May 21st. Subsequent scans revealed that the Miltown Malbay native suffered a dislocated shoulder which typically sidelines players for six weeks.
Two-time U21 All-Ireland and Munster medallist, Conor has been working vigorously to defy the odds and be back in contention for game time, four weeks on from the dislocation.
Management are hopeful that the Kilmaley hurler will be able to take his place at the edge of the square in order to try curb the crafty Aaron Gillane from Patrickswell, the duo forming a rivalry in clashes between the counties over recent seasons with Cleary limiting Gillane to 0-03 from play in last year’s Munster final which was decided after extra time.
First added to the county senior panel in 2014, Conor who has captained University of Galway in the Fitzgibbon Cup has become one of Brian Lohan’s most trusted players on the field and is one of the first names on the teamsheet in the Banner’s defence.
Should Cleary lose out in his race to be back at the heart of the Clare defence, David McInerney and Adam Hogan have been mooted as potential candidates to line out at full-back with the trio of Seadna Morey, Paul Flanagan and Cian Nolan likely to receive a starting spot as a result.
Éire Óg’s David Reidy continues to recover from a hamstring injury and has the potential to add an electricity to the Clare attack if introduced on Sunday.
No major changes are expected to be made by Lohan and his management team for the Munster Final with Eibhear Quilligan to man the goals with John Conlon, Rory Hayes, Diarmuid Ryan, McInerney and Hogan to fill defensive roles.
David Fitzgerald, Cathal Malone and Ryan Taylor will occupy central posts in the middle third with Tony Kelly, Peter Duggan and Shane O’Donnell hoping to make their experience of big days count in leading the Clare attack.