*Dean Hegarty of Newmarket Celtic in action against Jamie Boland of Kilavilla AFC. Photograph: Natasha Barton

NEWMARKET CELTIC will be without left winger Dean Hegarty for the remainder of the season.

Kilnamona native Hegarty who joined the club from Ennis Town FC in August sustained a serious knee injury in the opening five minutes of Newmarket’s Munster Junior Cup semi-final win over Fairview Rangers.

Dean opened the scoring for Celtic in their FAI Junior Cup semi-final win over Ballynanty Rovers at the beginning of April, bringing the crowd in Frank Healy Park to life when he hit the target on fifteen minutes, the winning goal was hit home by captain Eoin Hayes in the dying stages of the game.

Hegarty’s scoring prowess was also evident in Waterford for their Munster Junior Cup quarter-final win over Ferrybank AFC.

His absence creates an opportunity for either Gearoid O’Brien or Eunan Doherty to enter the starting eleven, ironically both O’Brien and Doherty have been part of panels for the Clare and Donegal senior footballers respectively.

Doubts also remain over the fitness of right winger Aaron Rudd who has struggled with a hamstring injury, prompting him to be substituted in both the Fairview and Ballynanty semi-final wins.

Manger, Paddy Purcell told The Clare Echo, “Unfortunately Dean has sustained a bad knee injury and will be out for some time. Aaron is touch and go trying to be fit for Saturday”.

Together with O’Brien and Doherty, Ronan McCormack will also be pushing for a starting spot in the absence of Hegarty and Rudd.

No other changes in personnel are envisaged with management expected to continue with the back four of David O’Grady, Ethan Fitzgerald, Harvey Cullinan and Conor McDaid with Shane Cusack a solid anchor behind them lining out in goals. The experienced Stephen Kelly is continuing to push strongly for a place in defence.

Darragh Leahy, Eoin Hayes and David McCarthy will form vital components of Newmarket’s attack with Shannon native Jack Kelly to continue as a defensive midfielder.

“We’ve a few really tight niggles with three or four players that we’re assessing,” Purcell added. “We have a big squad and we’ve been using that to the best of our ability, we’re very confident in all the players we have so whoever we need to use and put on for the games and on the bench, we’re very confident they will apply the same standards and that is all you can ask for”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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