Saturday, 23rd June 2018
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It’s the Faithful

On the comeback trail following defeat to Cork last weekend in the Munster Senior Hurling semi-final, Waterford have been paired with Offaly in the opening round of the All-Ireland qualifiers. This is a unique game in more ways than one as Kevin Ryan, the manager of the Midlanders, is a born and bred Waterford man with a huge knowledge of hurling in his home county and must now surely relish the opportunity of seeing his adopted team face the challenge. The counties have only met on four previous occasions and as recently as three years ago the Deise travelled to the really well appointed Tullamore to face the home side in the Allianz National League before coming through and ultimately winning the competition. While the Faithful County have been through a lean period in recent times, there is no doubt but ringing the changes by the management has seen an increase in expectation within the county. Beaten by All-Ireland outright favourites Galway in the Leinster semi-final, the Faithful county had an impressive win over their neighbours Westmeath in the opening outing having trailed 0-12 to 1-4 at the break. Indeed that 4-15 to 1-20 win was a huge turnaround for Offaly, from 2016 when beaten 2-22 to 1-11 by the same opposition.

The Offaly management will probably remain close to the starting fifteen that saw championship competition this year. James Dempsey will again guard the goal with a defence that will include Dermot Shortt, Sean Gardiner, David King and team captain Sean Ryan from Birr. Midfield will be entrusted to Paddy Murphy and Shane Kinsella although there is every possiblity that David King could move to the sector. Up front Offaly have players of real quality and danger. Big Joe Bergin will start in a central role as full forward or leader of the attack at number eleven.

It is likely that Padraig Guinan and Emmett Nolan will start on the wings with Sean Cleary and Oisin Kelly in the front line of attack. That leaves Shane Dooley, the

Tullamore man has been consistenly at the top end of the scoring charts with his freetaking, workrate and clinical finishing marking him out as a forward who will take watching right throughout the seventy minutes plus. While there has been no schedule of time and venue at time of going to print, it is reasonable to suggest that it will be Tullamore on Saturday evening.


Perhaps it was not the shock of defeat, rather the manner of defeat that most hurt Waterford supporters following the Thurles encounter against Cork on Sunday week last. Going into the game most supporters were confident that the win would be secured and Clare would then be next on the agenda in the Munster Final. It never worked out like that. The wide count was too great (16) over the seventy odd minutes. Many deliveries missing the target and dropping short. Cork held the team to just three scores in eighteen minutes in the second half. They played the system that favours Waterford with Alan Cagogan the lone front line striker in periods of the second half. Giving away soft frees. Derek McGrath and his management will hopefully consign the game to memory and have worked on the problems that surfaced against the Rebels. There is now no second chance and Offaly will certainly provide a huge challenge. The Deise lineout will be similar to that which opened against Cork. The superb shot stopping of goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe saved the Deise on at least two occasions and he is one of the best in the game.

Waterford have an experienced defence with Barry Coughlan and Tadhg de Burca manning the central positions. Shane and Darragh Fives, Noel Connors, Philip Mahony, Conor Gleeson will all be looking at the team sheet while there is reason to believe that player of the year Austin

Gleeson may see action in defence. Fourmilewater clubman Jamie Barron continues to prove he is one of the best midfielders in the game and will again be in the engine room with perhaps Kevin Moran. Up front Shane Bennett, Michael Walsh, Pauric Mahony, Maurice Shanahan and Patrick Curran will surely "get the nod" with Tommy Ryan, Brian O'Halloran, Colin Dunford all hoping for "the call".

Derek McGrath and his fellow selectors have a very talented and experienced squad of players at their disposal. I hope the Cork game has not diminished their confidence because Offaly in Tullamore can be a real "banana skin" game and the championship would be over before it really began. For now I can only see one result, a Waterford win but rest assured manager Kevin Ryan will certainly have his Offaly troops ready and what a filip that would be for the Mount sion clubman..


Congratulations to Frank Norris from

Jonestown who was the top prize winner in the June Deise Super Draw. Frank collected E12500.00 while Ann and Pauline Landers won the second prize of E3500.00. Other big money winners on the night included Nora Walsh from Colligan and Seamus

O'Rourke from Kilmacthomas who both won a thousand euro. Among the other winners, five hundred euro went to each of the following, Tom Cusack Clonea Power, Brian Atkins Erins Own, Maire Ni Chadhla An Rinn and Seamus Daly Ballyduff Upper. A huge thanks to Erins Own GAA Club for hoisting the event. The next draw in the 2017 series will take place in Stradbally on Wednesday 12th July. Remember if you are not in you cannot win and if you want that chance and do not already have a ticket then contact your local GAA club for details. There are only four draws left this year and you may very well be the next big winner.

All clubs receive 70% of their Deise Draw ticket sales and the finance raised will help your club to continue to promote the game as well as developing facilities that your members deserve.


There is great excitement among the younger members of our community as the opening Kellogg's GAA Cul Camps will commence on Monday next at clubs previously outlined in this column. The camps under the auspices of the Coaching and Games Development will continue until the end of August and as usual will be brimming with enthusiasm and fun for the kids over the two month duration. The following camps will take place during the third week of July (i.e. 17th to 21st). While there has been a huge response by way of numbers, growing year on year, if you have a query about anything the following are the clubs and contacts for that week. Ballygunner contact Noel Power, Kilrossanty contact Damien Ryan, Kilmacthomas contact Ann-Marie Hallahan, Clashmore/Kinsalebeg contact Katie Fleming, Cappoquin contact Eilish Curran.


Limerick defeated Tipperary in the under 21 Munster hurling championship (2-24 to 0-19) to set up a semi-final date with Clare on July 12th.

Meanwhile Waterford and Cork will face one another in the second semi-final in Walsh Park the following evening at 7.30pm. The Deise will be on the road to defending their Provincial crown won so brilliantly in 2016 at the same venue against Tipperary.


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