*Clare’s John Conlon. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

HOPES ARE RISING on the injury front for Clare’s senior hurlers ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final versus Kilkenny.

For the second year in a row, Clare and Kilkenny will face off in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park with Brian Lohan’s charges hoping to atone for last season’s twelve point defeat.

Clare head into the contest as slight favourites in what is anticipated to be a much closer affair than their encounter twelve months ago.

It is the first time since 1998 that Kilkenny will be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final clash without Brian Cody at the helm but former midfielder Derek Lyng has already captured provincial honours in his debut season in charge.

Conor Cleary has not been ruled out of featuring in Sunday’s semi-final. The Miltown Malbay native suffered a dislocated shoulder six weeks ago in Clare’s one point win over Cork and has missed the Munster final and All-Ireland quarter-final. While a six week recovery time can be deemed sufficient from such an injury, Cleary has visited a consultant regarding a potential operation but this is seen as the worst case scenario.

Should Cleary be absent from the side, management are likely to stick with Seadna Morey in the starting team while Brian Lohan and his selectors are understood to be very impressed with the showings of Darragh Lohan and Paul Flanagan in their most recent outing.

Centre-back John Conlon who was forced off in the comprehensive 5-26 2-17 win over Dublin with a head injury is on course to take his place in the heart of the Clare defence. The Clonlara man was hospitalised following the collision in the Gaelic Grounds a fortnight ago and was kept in overnight.

He is set to be joined in the half-back line by David McInerney who missed the quarter-final win over Dublin. The Tulla man did partake in the warm-up for that game and has trained since but management on the advice of the team’s medics opted not to risk the 2013 All-Ireland winner in that clash, a decision that has proven to be correct and gives him a better chance of giving a seventy minute performance this weekend.

Aidan McCarthy is back in contention for a position in the Clare attack as he recovers from a soft-tissue injury. Whether the Inagh/Kilnamona clubman will be tasked with taking the frees after a strong performance from Scariff’s Mark Rodgers on placed balls in his absence remains to be seen.

Within the Kilkenny camp, Lyng is without defender Mikey Carey. A starter in last year’s All-Ireland SHC loss to Limerick, the Young Irelands clubman returned to the panel at the end of April and was due to be travelling for the year but featured in the dramatic Leinster Final win over Galway.

Doubts remain over the fitness of both Martin Keoghan and Adrian Mullen. Tullaroan’s Keoghan went off injured with nineteen minutes played in the Leinster Final, having carried a hamstring injury into the game.

2019 Young Hurler of the Year, Mullen is in the mix to feature for Sunday’s semi-final. He broke his thumb against Wexford in the provincial round-robin series and missed the 4-21 2-26 win against Henry Shefflin’s Galway.

There is a Clare connection to Lyng’s backroom team with Shane O’Brien, a Clare SHC winner with Newmarket-on-Fergus (2012) and Clare SFC with Doonbeg (2010) serving as the Kilkenny physio.

Colm Lyons has been confirmed as the referee for Sunday’s game which commences at 4pm.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

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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