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Tierney answering his home club call by leaving Parnell's to return to Ballyroan Abbey

MJ TIERNEY has closed the book on his Dublin club career and set himself the target of trying to reclaim senior status with Ballyroan Abbey in Laois.

As revealed in yesterday's Evening Herald, the Laois freetaker has submitted a transfer application to rejoin his native club, having spent the past three seasons playing with ambitious northside outfit Parnell's. While still working in Dublin, Tierney is back living in Portlaoise and also training with the county, so switching club allegiance "makes more sense at this stage".

Harking back to his original transfer, he said: "It's not an easy thing to do, leave your home club, but the circumstances dictated for me. I could leave and stay playing with Laois. I was delighted at the time that Parnell's could give me the opportunity."

However, the Laois freetaker admitted it was "killing me" watching his home club in matches as they tried to escape the intermediate ranks. They were the last outfit to be crowned Laois senior champions (in 2006) prior to Portlaoise's current six-in-a-row, but their fortunes have suffered in the absence of Tierney and several others.

"Portlaoise can lose a couple of players and someone else slots in. A few from our team went travelling and (others departed) work-wise. It had a big effect on the team," he told the Herald.

But some of those players are returning from abroad this year, and Tierney insisted it's "good to be back".

"From the Parnell's end, I really enjoyed my time up there. My biggest regret was not winning anything when I was up there," he added. "The last two years I thought we should have beaten Ballymun and left it behind ourselves . . . it looks like they are going from strength to strength."

Galway to target league: Joe

JOE CANNING has stressed the importance of a positive Allianz League campaign for the Galway hurlers as they seek to build on last year's championship odyssey that eventually ended in All-Ireland replay defeat to Kilkenny.

Last spring the Tribesmen were reliant on a virtuoso comeback from Canning, who returned from a shoulder injury to salvage their top-flight status in a two-game relegation play-off saga with Dublin.

This year, with Galway as provincial champions gaining a bye to the Leinster semi-finals, they could face a very lengthy competitive lay-off from the end of March until mid-June . . . unless they qualify for the league knockout stages.

Hence, according to Canning, their fast-approaching Division 1A campaign is of "huge" importance. "We found that last year with the (play-off) replay against Dublin, which helped us in a way. We had an extra match to play and it helped me anyway because I missed all of the league," he pointed out.

"It'll be good for us. We've Kilkenny at home in the first game and that's huge and then Clare, who have huge work done already this year. It's a tough start for us and we'll need to hit the ground running if we are to progress to the latter stages of the league."

Kilcoo fan gets lifetime ban

A KILCOO supporter has been handed a lifetime ban from the GAA following the racism storm which stained last December's Ulster club SFC final.

Crossmaglen Rangers' Aaron Cunningham was the target of abuse of a racial nature from individuals within the crowd and on the pitch and one of those - a Kilcoo spectator - has been slapped with the maximum suspension by the Ulster Council.

Already, Kilcoo's Down senior defender Aidan Branagan was suspended for four months after a meeting with the Ulster Council's Hearings Committee. He had originally been recommended a six-month ban by the CCCC and could yet appeal the punishment further to Croke Park.

The CHC cleared Branagan's brother Daryl of any wrongdoing although another Kilcoo supporter is being investigated over similar allegations.

FERMANAGH claimed the last Dr McKenna Cup semi-final spot for the group runners-up with the best scoring difference, despite going down to Monaghan by 1-12 to 0-6 in Inniskeen last night.

They will play Tyrone, who have blazed a January trail thus far, winning all three of their Section C matches and last night putting UUJ to the sword by 1-18 to 0-9 in Omagh, featuring eight different scorers and a haul of 1-5 from Seán Cavanagh.

Down - who beat Armagh by 2-11 to 1-10 in Newry - and Monaghan will contest the other semi-final.