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Replacing Declan Hannon | Six Limerick options at six

With Declan Hannon missing the All-Ireland semi-final, Shane Stapleton and Nickey Brennan discuss potential replacements for centre-back

With Declan Hannon missing the All-Ireland semi-final, Shane Stapleton and Nickey Brennan discuss potential replacements for centre-back.

John Kiely will spend much of the lead-up to the All-Ireland semi-final agonising over a replacement for Declan Hannon at centre-back, writes Shane Stapleton.

The Adare man has been a key piece of the puzzle since being redeployed from at attacking position to the number-six slot.

Without Hannon marshalling the defence, it is unlikely that The Treaty would have claimed four of the last five All-Ireland titles, not to mention the five-in-a-row of Munsters they have just completed.

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There is no obvious answer to this question, which means it is an obvious problem — just like what Brian Lohan faced with full-back Conor Cleary missing the Munster final.

Sean Finn’s absence for the remainder of the season was already a blow, meaning Limerick are now down two players who have won seven All Stars in defence between them.

We look through some of the options at centre-back available to Kiely:

Gearoid Hegarty
The St Patrick’s man had been struggling for form but got back to something more akin to his usual levels in the Munster SHC final win over Clare.

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He might well be more at home in the half-forward line, and it is rarely we see him in any other position in a team that generally has proven rather versatile, but he has operated in the number six shirt for his club.

Cathal O’Neill, Tom Morrissey, David Reidy and the wizard that is Cian Lynch — assuming he is fit — are all positive options for the half-forward line, and perhaps Adam English is now also ready.

Hegarty’s size and aerial ability suggest he could be a great option back there, but perhaps he is more suited to using his legs in open country rather than the tighter confines at centre-back.

While his use of the ball would likely be brilliant, few players in the game have the sleight of hand than Hannon does, and hightower Hegarty might find himself bottled up in this area.

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Will O’Donoghue
The Na Piarsaigh man is excellent in tight spaces, powerful in the air, is a great reader of the game, and has played in this position for his club.

His combative nature and energy would certainly be missed from the midfield, however, and it would be a lot to ask options such as David Reidy or maybe even Cian Lynch to do the same level of donkey work in the middle.

They may lose too much making this switch.

Colin Coughlan
The youngster is a huge unit and a great ball-striker but it might be asking too much too soon.

As with Hegarty, getting caught up in traffic when opposition is pressing in might be an issue.

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Click next page below for remaining options and verdict

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