Waterford v Cork
Sunday, Walsh Park, 2pm
Walsh Park could be set for its biggest attendance in a long number of years for a National Hurling League game when Waterford and Cork do battle on Sunday.
Just short of 3,000 paying supporters made their way to Fraher Field for the Munster Senior League clash over the Christmas period. That was of course Liam Cahill’s first competitive game in charge of Waterford and next Sunday’s national league opener should attract another sizable attendance.
While some will argue that the National League is not an important competition to many counties, as their main focus will be on the championship, a good run in the league can often be of benefit going into the championship in the summer months.
Many supporters are expecting big things of Waterford, if not this year then in the very near future.
The appointment of Liam Cahill as Waterford manager was widely welcomed. He was very successful working alongside Mikey Bevans in his native county and the hope is the pair can replicate with Waterford what they managed with Tipp teams.
No doubt the Waterford management team will be hoping that there won’t be any injuries picked up in Fitzgibbon Cup games that would rule out any players that they would like to look at.
The team will be expected to include a mixture of youth and experience.
The goalkeeping position is likely to rest between Stephen O’Keeffe and Billy Nolan. Conor Prunty would be expected to fill the full back position with possibly Shane McNulty, Shane Fives or Conor Gleeson either side of him. Kieran Power has been given a run at centre back recently and it will be interesting to see if he continues there. Other options might be the experienced Kevin Moran or Austin Gleeson if fit, while players like Calum Lyons, Jordan Henley or Darragh Lyons could be selected on the wings.
Austin Gleeson could be an option in the middle of the field with players like Jake Dillon, Mark O’Brien, Jamie and Tom Barron and Kieran Bennett among other options.
In attack Waterford have been somewhat been let down recently despite having plenty of potential to fill the attacking positions. Dessie Hutchinson has come into the panel this year and carries high expectations.Neil Montgomery, Stephen Bennett, Colin Dunford, Peter Hogan, Mickey Kearney, Stephen Roche, Patrick Curran and Jack Fagan are amongst the players used in recent games and are expected to be involved at some stage during the league.
Cork have produced some very good underage teams in recent years and the best of the players from these teams should feature this year. Kieran Kingston is back in charge but won’t be happy with Cork’s 15 points defeat to Limerick in the Munster Hurling League recently.The Cork boss can call on the likes of Anthony Nash, Eoin Cadogan, Sean O’Donoghue, Bill Cooper, Damien Cahalane, Aidan Walsh, Luke Meade, Conor Lehane, Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan and all could well feature in this game.
The Rebels will come to Walsh Park intent on playing hurling as they always do and will travel in numbers and create a good atmosphere inside the ground. They will come intent on bringing the two points on offer home with them. If Waterford are to have a good championship in 2020, then it is imperative they build up confidence and no better way to do that by getting back into the winning habit. A home win in the first game of the National League would be a decent start