The Waterford team for Saturday’s Munster hurling semi-final replay was named last night, with a couple of surprise changes from the team that started – and finished – against Limerick last weekend.
Veteran defender Tony Browne is selected in his old centre-field stomping ground, with captain Stephen Molumphy moving to left half-forward and Jamie Nagle switching from the other flank of the attack to left corner-forward in place of the omitted Eoin McGrath.
Gary Hurney gets the nod ahead of Dan Shanahan to replace injury victim Ken McGrath at centre-forward, with Seamus Prendergast to his right. Thomas Ryan of Tallow has been added to the subs bench.
Both sets of followers and neutrals will be hoping for a marked improvement on what was the lowest scoring Munster championship game in 24 years. The dire weather notwithstanding, quality was in short supply.
Sunday’s attendance was 25,000 and the Munster Council is banking on the absence of live TV cameras boosting the Thurles turn-out. However, tomorrow’s game, which throws in at 5 o’clock, has to contend with being sandwiched between the Lions’ first test at 2pm (which will have big interest among Limerick supporters) and the televised Leinster SHC meeting of Kilkenny and Galway at 7.
With ticket prices reduced by €5 (cash will be accepted at the terrace turnstiles) Waterford’s ace attacker John Mullane is calling on the Déise support to travel to Semple Stadium in strong numbers to help get the team “over the line”, with the loss of Ken, “our best player”, for up to six weeks with a knee injury a serious body blow.
Sterling defender Eoin Murphy, part of an unchanged Déise backline, says the conditions contributed to last Sunday’s dire spectacle and feels the extra match could be a blessing in disguise for the winners.
Waterford’s record in provincial replays is excellent, winning four out of the five they’ve played over the past 20 years. Limerick have won two from the handful they’ve been involved in during the same period.
Such statistics will have no bearing on tomorrow’s battle of wills, mind. Waterford’s confidence needs rebuilding quickly after a poor second-half display that saw them score only two points, both from frees, having been cruising at the break.
After finishing stronger in the proverbial game of two halves, Justin McCarthy’s side remains unchanged from the team that started the last day, with goalscoring sub David Breen left on the sideline.
The Limerick Leader’s GAA correspondent Jerome O’Connell says that, having been underdogs initially, the Treatymen enter the re-match “in confident mood”, while realising they’ve a lot to improving to do if they’re to book a final place on July 12, with captain Mark Foley calling on his colleagues to “raise their game”.
If Waterford can elevate theirs they should win – otherwise they’ll be in Sunday’s qualifiers draw.
For those who can’t make it, RTÉ will have live online coverage, while WLRfm’s Kieran O’Connor & co will also be broadcasting blow-by-blow from the home of hurling.
Waterford Team: Clinton Hennessy, Eoin Murphy, Declan Prendergast, Noel Connors, Richie Foley, Michael Walsh, Kevin Moran, Tony Browne, Shane O’Sullivan, Seamus Prendergast, Gary Hurney, Stephen Molumphy, John Mullane, Eoin Kelly, Jamie Nagle.