Clare Senior Hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald has received a boost in advance of the upcoming Munster Championship quarter-final versus Limerick with the confirmation that Nicky O’Connell has returned to the panel.
Clonlara man O’Connell left the panel one month ago along with Davy O’Halloran following a disciplinary issue. O’Halloran claimed in an interview with The Irish Times that he had been “humiliated” by the “double standards” of Fitzgerald. O’Connell expressed an interest in returning to the squad last week when he contacted the former All-Star goalkeeper and has since distanced himself from the comments of Éire Óg’s O’Halloran
At a team meeting last night, O’Connell apologised to both the Clare panel and management for the events and what followed in the aftermath. Manager, Davy Fitzgerald welcomed Nicky O’Connell back to the team meeting at The Inn at Dromoland and stated that he had no objection with his return to the squad. It remains unclear if Davy O’Halloran will make a similar return but he has been heavily linked to be joining Colm Collins’ Clare Senior football panel.
The return of Nicky O’Connell will give Davy Fitzgerald and his selectors Louis Mulqueen and Michael Browne an extra option in the middle of the field with Colm Galvin US bound in the coming weeks. A key member of the U21 All-Ireland winning team of 2009, O’Connell has been part of the Senior panel since making his championship debut in 2010.
Clooney/Quin’s Peter Duggan looks set to return to competitive action this weekend after a long spell on the sidelines following surgery. Duggan is expected to make his first appearance of 2015 for his club when they take on Feakle in Round 3 of the Clare Cup this Saturday.
Despite all the positive news emerging, Fitzgerald and his management have received a minor setback as Clarecastle man Stephen O’Halloran has opted out of the panel for the moment. The twenty three year old has decided to concentrate solely on his club action for now but a return in the coming months has not been ruled out.
Meanwhile their championship opponents Limerick have been dealt a blow to their championship plans. Goalkeeper Nicky Quaid sustained a collarbone injury at training on Friday last and the Effin clubman is now a doubt for the May 24th clash.