Davy Fitzgerald is hoping for a 70-minute performance from the Waterford team he manages for the first time in championship action against Antrim at Walsh Park tomorrow (2pm).
The Deise boss, who will have to do without the injured Aidan Kearney and Seamus Prendergast, is pleased with the levels of sweat his players have shed since assuming the county manager’s bib.
“The lads have worked very hard, kept their heads down, worked hard and anything they’ve been asked to do they’ve done,” said Fitzgerald at the opening of the East Stand at the RSC on Wednesday. “So hopefully they’ll put a bit of spark into the performance on Saturday.”
Stressing that Waterford will have to be on their guard against an Antrim side smarting from their 25-point reversal to Galway last Saturday, Fitzgerald believes he’s got a talented panel at his disposal.
“These guys are determined. I’ve watched a lot of Waterford’s matches in the last two or three years and you could see in the way they hurl what kind of a group they are. These are good guys, they’re working very hard for Waterford and hopefully everyone will get behind them.
“All that is on the mind of every player right now is keeping up that level of hard work, to keep competing at the highest level and to achieve their ambition of winning an All-Ireland.
“I hope there’ll be a big turnout of support this Saturday, I hope there’s as many young people as possible at Walsh Park and that we’ll get the right result.”
As for Antrim? “They were level with Galway well into the first half…we’re expecting a tough game off them because their pride will be hurt.”
Presented with a plaque of the city arms bearing the motto ‘Urbs Intacta Manet’, Fitzgerald said he hoped the team would live up to the city’s ancient message of defiance.
Fitzgerald also revealed that the Waterford County Board had suggested playing whomever they faced this weekend at a ‘halfway’ venue in advance of last Sunday’s qualifier draw.
“We felt it made more sense to do that, no matter who we were playing. We were turned down, but so be it. We have to live with the consequences, and the venue that we got.”
Jamie O’Keeffe writes: The team named last night shows four personnel changes from the side that lost to Clare. Ken McGrath returns to the side after recovering from a knee injury and – as was rumoured – replaces Kevin Moran at full-back. Eoin Murphy comes in for Brian Phelan at right corner-back after recovering from a broken arm, while Ballygunner’s Shane O’Sullivan starts at right half-back. Dan Shanahan replaces the injured Seamus Prendergast at full-forward, while Jack Kennedy starts at wing-forward.
Waterford team: C Hennessy; E Murphy, K McGrath, D Prendergast; S O’Sullivan, T Browne, J Kennedy; M Walsh, D Bennett; J Kennedy, G Hurney, S Molumphy; E McGrath, D Shanahan, J Mullane.