The great Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh scored a goal in the win over Cork as he begins his 17th season as a Waterford senior hurler. Plenty of younger players impressed in the two games this week too. Photo: Inpho.
The purpose of the pre season competitions such as the Co-Op Superstores Munster League and the Walsh Cup is to prepare teams for the upcoming Allianz League by enabling team managements to give game time to panellists in a competitive environment and in doing so make assessments as to where players are in terms of fitness and application. While Waterford will be disappointed at not having an extra game against Tipperary next weekend and with the totally flat first-half display against Clare in Fraher Field there were positives to be taken from the two games that saw a total of 25 players getting game time.
PUT THEIR HANDS UP
Two players who will have made strong cases for starting places in the upcoming League tie against Offaly are Darragh Lyons and Conor Prunty, both of whom were given a severe test against Clare on Sunday and who came through with flying colours. The same two players were outstanding on the county U-21 side that almost shocked Cork in last year’s Munster championship on which occasion Lyons played at wing forward and clearly he is a player whose versatility gives some options to the senior selectors.
Conor Prunty had a great year for Abbeyside, reaching the senior final and captaining his club to the U-21 title having been plagued by injury in the early part of the year. A halfback on the U-21 All Ireland winning team of 2016 he showed on Sunday last that he is well capable of filling the gap left by the departure of Barry Coughlan from the senior county scene. Jordan Henley is another U-21 player who did his case no harm with a strong performance against Cork in Mallow. Considering the players unavailable to the panel at this time the form of Stephen Bennett and Tommy Ryan in attack and the commitment of experienced hands such as Kevin Moran and Michael Walsh augers well for the coming league.
The return to action of Shane Bennett is also a big boost after a year out and, while he clearly has some work to do, he will be an important player when fully fit as will Austin Gleeson when he shakes off the winter cobwebs and gets up to pace.
29 players were listed on the team sheets for the two Munster League games and the four players listed who did not get game time were Tadhg de Burca, Shane Ryan of De La Salle, Clonea’s Billy Power and Lismore goalkeeper Seanie Barry all of whom did play in the December games against Wexford and Dublin.
CAPTAIN NOEL A POPULAR CHOICE
New Waterford senior hurling captain, Noel Connors.
Apart from the Ballygunner players, who are preparing for their All-Ireland Club semi-final against Ballyhale on February 9 next, players currently unavailable for selection are Patrick Curran who suffered a broken hand in one of the pre Christmas games and is likely to be ruled out of the early part of the League, and Conor Gleeson who is undergoing surgery for a shoulder injury that has plagued him for some time. Darragh Fives is another player who has been plagued by injuries and is working hard to get back to fitness as soon as possible.
The naming of Noel Connors as captain has been a popular choice. The two time All Star has been totally committed to the cause since arriving on the intercounty scene in 2010 and has shown real leadership qualities with club and county.
The full list of players named for the two Munster League games was as follows.
Billy Nolan (Roanmore), Shane McNulty, Kevin Moran and Shane Ryan (De La Salle, Noel Connors (Passage) Shane Fives (Tourin), Jordan Henley and Tommy Ryan (Tallow), Mark O’Brien (Ferrybank), Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater), Michael Walsh (Stradbally), Micheal Harney (Bunmahon), D. J. Foran (Portlaw), Mikey Kearney (Ballyduff Upper), Brian O’Halloran and Tadhg de Burca (Clashmore-Kinsalebeg), Stephen Bennett, Kieran Bennett and Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart), Colm Roche (Shanrocks), Seanie Barry and Jack Prendergast (Lismore), ), Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan), Conor Prunty (Abbeyside), Austin Gleeson and Stephen Roche(Mount Sion), Colin Dunford (Colligan), Callum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower) and Billy Power(Clonea).