National Hurling League 2009: Mouthwatering ties for Waterford fans

The revamped National Hurling League comes into being in early February, with the Division 1 grouping certain to generate a great more interest than recent seasons, with the top eight hurling counties in the country at the moment battling it out for supremacy.

Indeed every game in the seven-round programme should be something special, with Waterford getting their assault on the prestigious title underway at Walsh Park on February 8th, with a first round showdown with current League and Munster champions Tipperary. This of course will be a repeat of this year’s pulsating All-Ireland semi-final in which the Decies pulled off a huge surprise in toppling the Premier County at Croke Park.

Aiming to make amends, the visitors to the Keanes Road venue are eagerly looking forward to this fixture, with the renewal of rivalry sure to take on all the ingredients of a championship encounter. This is indeed a major opening ‘09 test for the recently-reappointed Davy Fitzgerald and his fellow selectors Peter Queally and Maurice Geary, and it would surely be a great fillip for the new season to get the League campaign off on a winning note.

Exactly a week later comes a second round fixture away to Clare, and if this hasn’t an appeal all its own, then what has. The Davy Fitzgerald factor in itself should pack Cusack Park to the rafters, and of course Waterford haven’t too many fond memories of recent visits to the Ennis venue, with a number of old scores to be settled.

On March 1st, an All-Ireland Final repeat is listed for Walsh Park, when the Decies play hosts to champions Kilkenny. Here surely is a date to look forward to with unprecedented interest for the followers from the neighbouring counties. Indeed, Waterford’s performance against the Cats last September in Croke Park was simply too bad to be true, and it’s a golden opportunity for the home side to set the record straight.

The second of four away League matches brings Waterford to Parnell Park in the Capital on March 22nd. The Metropolitans deem themselves fortunate to be included in the top flight to the exclusion of counties like Wexford, Offaly and Antrim, and are determined to justify their current rating. This could be a banana skin experience for Davy Fitz’s charges and a defeat must be avoided at all costs.

Seven days later Waterford play hosts to Galway, this time at Fraher Field, in what will be another crowd puller. The Tribesmen, who are already relishing the prospects of playing in next summer’s Leinster championship, should pose exceptionally strong opposition for any team around at the moment. Depending on other League results beforehand, this could well be a real crunch affair, and one way or another the spoils won’t come easily.

An upcoming full scale Munster Championship rehearsal awaits in round 6, scheduled for the first weekend in April. Here Waterford find themselves on the road again, this time to Limerick, where the home side under the direction of former Decies boss Justin McCarthy will be aiming to get one over on the visitors, and lay down a marker for the demanding provincial semi-final test in June.

Finally Waterford face archrivals Cork in the seventh and final round of the League on April 19th, again away from home, and provided the Leesiders can resolve their present difficulties in time, this likewise, should be one whale of a match.

All in all then, quite a mouth-watering spring League programme is in store:


2009 NATIONAL LEAGUE FIXTURES

8 February

Waterford
v Tipperary 2.30pm
15 February

Clare

v
Waterford 2.30pm

1 March

Waterford

v
Kilkenny 2.30pm

22 March

Dublin

v
Waterford 2.30pm

29 March

Waterford

v
Galway 2.30pm

5 April

Limerick

v
Waterford 2.30pm

19 April

Cork

v
Waterford 2.30pm

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