Tuesday, 18th September 2018
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Waterford aim to take down the banner

On Sunday next at Walsh Park in the city the Waterford Senior Hurlers will face high flying Clare in their final outing of the group stage of the Allianz National Hurling League. Deise manager Dertek McGrath will have been buoyed with the victory over Cork down on Leeside two weeks ago and will also be well aware that there is a chance, albeit a very slim chance, that Waterford could qualify for the quarter finals of the competition. I say slim in that if three or more teams end up on the same number of points then scoring difference comes into play, if you pardon the pun. At present Waterford have two point as do Cork but with a difference of ten points in favour of the Rebels and were both Cork, who play Tipperary, and Waterford to win along with Wexford beating Kilkenny then all four teams above would be equal on points. That would mean Waterford would have to overturn a deficit of twenty eight against the Premier, and twenty two against Kilkenny to secure a place in the final eight. Mathematically possible although pretty much out of reach in reality. Incidentally both Wexford and Clare are already qualified with both having lost one game. The Slaneysiders beaten by Tipperary earlier in the competition while Clare fell to Wexford two weeks ago.

That brings us to Sunday in Walsh park. It may very well be that the management will give a "run out" to a number of the panel with a view to further challenges down the line. The Deise have two very dependable goalkeepers in Ballygunner's Stephen O'Keeffe and Mount Sion clubman Ian O'Regan. We will surely see Noel Connors and Barry Coughlan in the last line and depending on the fitness of Darragh Fives this could be the last line although Ian Kenny, Shane McNulty and Kieran Bennett would certainly be challenging for a start. Austin Gleeson in my view is the best centre back in the game and with Tadhg de Burca, Shane Fives and Philip Mahony any three from four would form a superb outline of defence. However the hugely versatile Kevin Moran who began against Tipperary in defence may well be brought back from his midfield role as the De La Salle captain is a solid defender as he has shown on so many occasions. Midfield may well see Fourmilewater club colleagues Jamie Barron and Conor Gleeson manning the engine room although once again the management could bring Mikey Kearney or Colin Dunford in to fray.

Up front a number of players have been showing up well in recent outing and with the returned Michael "Brick" Walsh also in line for a return there is every reason to believe that we could see a number of changes.

Besides regulars Pauric Mahony, Stephen Bennett, Brian O'Halloran, Maurice Shanahan, Tommy Ryan and Jake Dillon the selectors will have available players like DJ Foran, Patrick Curran, Mark O'Brien and Stephen Roche ready to come in and do their best. If the management do want to give players some so called "game time" then probably no better time than the present with a relegation game on the horizon. Whatever way it drops I really cannot see Waterford escape that relegation playoff on perhaps 18th March. The odds just don't stack up. It does look as though we will be heading back to Leeside on the weekend of 18th March

WHAT OF CLARE

Joint managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor must be absolutely delighted with the progress of the Clare Senior Hurling team throughout the league. While they were beaten by Wexford (0-20 to 1-13) in their last outing the banner had shown some serious form in winning their opening three games with wins over Tipperary (1-21 to 0-19) Kilkenny (2-18 to 1-18) and Cork (0-23 to 0-19). Those win saw Clare safely through to the quarter finals and they will be travelling to the Deise in confident mood. Indeed in the recent Fitzgibbon Cup competition for third level colleges no fewer than six Clare men featured on the UL team that won the competition. A number of those returned players will surely feature at one time or another in this upcoming fixture.

I expect that the management may well stay close to the lineup that faced now table toppers Wexford and in that case Donal Tuohy in goal will have Jack Browne, Conor Cleary and Jason McCarthy Mike O'Malley, David McInerney and Seadna More all taking defensive positions. Colm Galvin and Cathal Malone as a midfield pairing have performed well with up front Niall Deasy, John Conlon, David Reidy, Shane O'Donnell, Peter Duggan and Podge Collins all making a start. With Tony Kelly, Ian Galvin and David Fitzgerald on the bench this will be a formidable challenge for Waterford, but if the determination shown in Parc Ui Chaoimh can be repeated then one never knows and Waterford might just keep the points at home.

FOOTBALL MATTERS

All competitions having been cancelled due to the atrocious weather last weekend, the Waterford Senior Footballers are due back in action with their rescheduled match in Newcastlewest against Limerick. With just three games left against fellow strugglers Limerick, Leitrim and London it would give Tom McGlinchy and his team a huge boost if they could collect all points, along with an opportunity of getting themselves into a middle of the table position.

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