Tuesday, 18th September 2018
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Huge ask

Travelling to O'Moore Park in Portlaoise on Saturday last to face the home side was always going to be a tough encounter for Tom McGlinchy and his Waterford Senior Football team. Laois fancied by many to be chasing promotion, come the end of the series, had two wins under the belt which saw the Leinster county joint top of the division. On the other hand Waterford had garnered a single point from their two outings although one must also add that they performed quite admirably in both outings.

Conditions in the Midlands were wintry indeed although thankfully, the rain abated before the game. There was however a stiffish breeze which would favour the visitors in the opening half.

The Deise began very brightly indeed and full forward JJ Hutchinson pointed them ahead but the sides were level pretty quickly as Kieran Lillis opened the score for the home side. JJ Hutchinson continued to cause havoc in the opening quarter and the Gaultier clubman had the opening goal after twenty minutes to leave Waterford ahead 1-3 to 0-3 having converted all the scores for Tom McGlinchy's team thus far. Jason Curry edged Waterford a further point ahead but Laois were beginning to create chances through full forward Gary Walsh, his Ballylinan clubmate Alan Farrell and. Although the latter was being well shadowed by Thomas O'Gorman the Arles-Kilcruise player grabbed a point before the break to see the Midlanders into the dressing room with a point (0-8 to 1-4) lead. However Waterford did create some really good chances themselves but these never materialised.

The opening minutes of the second half saw Jason Curry add three points for Waterford although full forward Gary Walsh was also hitting the target for Laois and the sides were level after 45 minutes 1-7 to 0-10. This was an excellent performance so far from Waterford and no doubt it would be a huge scalp if the points were taken. However it was not to be as Gary Walsh continued to land the scores ably supported by substitute Donal Kingston and in the end Waterford had to give way on an 0-18 to 1-11 scoreline. JJ Hutchinson led the scoring charts for Waterford with a goal and three points ably assisted by Jason Curry (0-4) and one apiece from Paul Whyte, Donie Breathnach and Conor Murray. A great effort from the Deise lads and no doubt games against teams who have played consistently in the higher divisions must surely benefit in the future.

Next up for Waterford is a meeting with Carlow in two weeks time. The Leinster county are joint top of the division with Laois so the challenges remain.

KILKENNY COME TO TOWN

On Sunday next Walsh Park will play host to our neighbours, Kilkenny, in what could be a hugely defining game as far as both teams are concerned. A win would go a long way towards getting the league challenge back on track while, defeat would make that challenge so much more difficult. With the top four teams going to the quarter finals and the bottom two teams going into a relegation battle both counties, having suffered defeat in their two opening matches will be only too aware how important this game will be. The visitors went down to both Cork and Clare on a three point margin while the Deise fell to Wexford by seven points 2-120 to 0-19 and Tipperary by nine 1-20 to 1-11. The Waterford defeats probably don't do justice to the team. There was precious little in the Tipperary game with former Player of the Year Austin Gleeson back to his formidable best at the centre of the defence before having to be forced off with injury. In the Wexford game the Slaneysiders goalkeeper Mark Fanning brought off one terrific save and the post helped in another attack. I'm not for one minute saying that they would have changed the result but, one never knows. The challenge now is for Waterford to win on Sunday and at least get back in among the runners.

Kilkenny come to the famed Keane's Road venue in the middle of a rebuilding process. That said they still have some huge experience in the side. Allowing for the fact that they may well be without TJ Reid and Conor Fogarty they still possess much danger in attack with a defence that is slowly coming together. Glenmore clubman Eoin Murphy will man the posts but has proven that he is an accomplished long distance free taker. In front of goal it is expected that Padraig Walsh will be on the edge of the square with Joey Holden and Paddy Deegan in the corners. The half line will see captain Cillian Buckley Robert Lannon and Joe Lyng. Midfield will surely be entrusted to James maher and Ollie Walsh with John DonnellyRichie Reid and Richie Leahy in the outer line of attack. The inner line will probably have Walter Walsh on the edge of the square with Bill Sheehan and Alan Murphy in the attacking corner. The latter a brother of the goalkeeper hit ten points against Clare so danger lurks.

Kilkenny bainisteoir Brian Cody may well rotate his team again and in that respect both Bennetsbridge clubmen Liam Blanchfield and Enda Morrissey along with the vastly experienced Lester Ryan, Conor O'Shea, Pat Lyng and Conor Martin could all see game time.

Waterford manager Derek McGrath and his selectors will be well aware of what this game will mean and will also have seen a number of players pushing for inclusion following the opening rounds. Ballygunner clubman Stephen O'Keeffe continues to be the number one choice but Ian O'Regan will not lack experience is called into action. Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan and Ian Kenny formed the last line of defence against Tipperary with Kevin Moran, Austin Gleeson and Kieran Bennett named in the half back line. Mount Sion's Stephen Roche and Colligan's Colin Dunford formed a midfield partnership while up front DJ Foran, Mark O'Brien, Brian O'Halloran Stephen Bennett, Patrick Curran and Mikey Kearney in began in positional changes. With a number of players carrying slight injuries it is rewasonable to expect that the starting fifteen will see

a number of changes and in this respect one could envisage Pater Hogan, Shane McNulty, Michael Walsh, Jamie Barron and Pauric Mahony all looking to make the starting lineup.

Whatever way the management set up the starting fifteen I expect one hell of a challenge and will be hugely disappointed if Waterford cannot come away with the points.

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