PIPPED AT THE POST

Splendid hurling occasion lacked the perfect outcome

Brian Flannery at Walsh Park

Well that was almost a perfect Sunday. The return of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship to Waterford brought the crowds back to Walsh Park and it was a wonderful occasion.Having the sun shine is a key ingredient to any Irish outdoor event and the Keane’s Road venue was drenched. The pitch surface was superb and never looked as well. The only hiccup was the result and even that almost came right at the end with a late rally just failing to save the day.

Early last Sunday morning I had to spin into town to drop off a ticket and you couldn’t but notice the saffron and blue colours emanating from all the local hotels.  Hosting a big event like the Munster Championship is boon for the entire the city.Facilities at the grounds may remain basic for now but local clubs like Mount Sion and Roanmore both offered plenty to appease the many day trippers.

Austin Gleeson reacts to his stunning stoppage time point which left Waterford with a fighting chance in the closing stages of last Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship opener against Clare at Walsh Park. The Deisemen travel to Semple Stadium on Sunday next to take on Tipperary.  | Photos: Noel Browne

Austin Gleeson reacts to his stunning stoppage time point which left Waterford with a fighting chance in the closing stages of last Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship opener against Clare at Walsh Park. The Deisemen travel to Semple Stadium on Sunday next to take on Tipperary. | Photos: Noel Browne

Walsh Park is a ground that retains character and attracted plenty of praise including from the Clare management team.Joint Clare boss Donal Moloney spoke glowingly of the home venue in his post-match interview and mentioned how pleasantly surprised all the players were with the excellent condition of the surface at Walsh Park in their pre-game puck around on the eve of the game.

Provincial towns and cities like Ennis and Waterford need this kind of exposure need the buzz and the income generated by the provincial series.The Minors were first up and in a tactical battle Waterford minors also came up just short. Shooting just five points from play over 60-plus minutes is a concern I’m sure for manager Daragh Duggan as is the paucity of goal opportunities.

The sweeper system certainly has benefits but if you operate with an extra defender you leave your attack undermanned. Rory Furlong operated the position to good effect with club-mate Sean Burke dropping deep to fill in at the number six position.I’m told this is the preferred tactical alignment which Waterford minors have been using in recent challenge games and are likely to retain going forward. Is this the best use of the available players? Caolan McGrath both on Sunday last and throughout last year’s campaign looks a good prospect with Dungarvan’s Johnny Burke also catching the eye.

Aaron Ryan carried the majority of the scoring responsibility converting eight frees from nine attempts. The good news is that their next opponents Tipperary shipped 2-27 in a 12-point defeat. Given Tipp minor’s defensive woes perhaps a more attack minded approach might pay dividends. With three games to play it’s still all to play for at minor level.Waterford seniors too came up short. The concession of the early goal put Fanning’s men on the back foot and they only regained the momentum over the last 10 minutes of play. Shane O’Donnell set up the goal for John Conlon and looked dangerous throughout. Tony Kelly was the real star for Clare with five points from play while Peter Duggan’s ability to nail frees from all distances and angles is a real positive for Clare’s Championship credentials.

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