John Mullane has recovered from a hamstring strain to be included in Waterford’s starting XV for Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final against Limerick in Thurles.
The De La Salle forward has missed the last fortnight’s training but is deemed fit enough to start, with veterans Dan Shanahan and Tony Browne, two ex-Hurlers of the Year, both named on the bench.
Noel Connors, 20, makes his championship debut at left corner-back, while Declan Prendergast returns at full-back, having been suspended since the league victory over Kilkenny, and Eoin Murphy completes the last defensive line ahead of Clinton Hennessy on goal.
Kevin Moran and Aiden Kearney are the two wing-backs, flanking Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, with co-captain Ken McGrath selected at centre-forward. Shane O’Sullivan and joint-skipper Stephen Molumphy are manager Davy Fitzgerald’s preferred midfield pairing, with Jamie Nagle and Seamus Prendergast the two other half-forwards.
Mullane and Eoin McGrath will operate either side of 2008 All Star Eoin Kelly in the full-forward line.
A strong-looking reserves list also includes the likes of Gary Hurney, Richie Foley, Bryan Phelan and Jack Kennedy.
Limerick bainisteoir Justin McCarthy – who “knows everything about Waterford hurling” – says Shanahan, also hands first championship appearances to Stephen Walsh and James Ryan, with star defender Seamus Hickey named at midfield; though the former Waterford boss’s team-sheets have always tended to be fluid.
“He knows us all so well, he knows our strengths and our weaknesses, but maybe we can pull a few new tricks out of the bag,” Browne suggests.
By the way, the forecast for Semple Stadium between 4 and 5.15 on Sunday afternoon is a mix of mostly cloud, some sun and the likelihood of rain. It’ll definitely be hot and heavy!