Fanning: ‘Déise keen to play all games at home’

Waterford hurling manager Páraic Fanning says he and his players are focused on playing next year’s Munster championship games at home.

Last month, the Munster Council voted against the Déise proposal to play their home games in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, but discussions on the issue are ongoing.

“As far as we’re concerned, we’re still looking at playing the games at home,” said Fanning.

“That would be my view, and I think the view of all of us, that the games should be played in Waterford.

“I know there’s a process we have to go through in relation to that, but we’ll see how that plays out. Our intention and our hope is that these games would still go ahead in Waterford, as I’ve said before — either in Waterford city or elsewhere in the county.”

On the plus side, Waterford club side Ballygunner are in the All-Ireland club series.

“There are two sides to that — obviously, early on in the league campaign next year we’ll be without the Ballygunner lads, and they’ll be a loss to us, there are some very good players involved with them.

“But on the other hand, obviously it’s fantastic for Waterford — and for the club themselves — that they’re heading into an All-Ireland semi-final now.

We would, of course, be hugely supportive of them and of them doing well in the competition, and we’ve already told the Waterford panellists with Ballygunner that we don’t expect to see them until the All-Ireland club campaign is finished — and we’d be hoping that won’t be until it finishes on St Patrick’s Day.

“That gives other lads a chance to step up to the plate, to try to grab a spot, and that’ll be true of the Munster League and the early part of the national league. Players should see it as an opportunity in that sense.”

That’s how Limerick have treated Na Piarsaigh’s extended club runs in recent years, Fanning pointed out.

“We’d be hoping it’ll work out in a similar way, and when they (Ballygunner players) fall back in with us it’ll add enormously to the depth of our panel.

“If we can find one or two players in the league as well that’ll add to the competition for places. Obviously, we don’t know how things will pan out but the response has been very positive and we’re looking forward to competitive action again.”

The Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League will be their first competitive outing.

At the launch of the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League 2019 were erry O’Sullivan, Chairman Munster Council, Jim Woulfe, CEO Dairygold with Conor Cleary, Clare, Seamus Callanan, Tipperary, Seamus Harnedy, Cork, Stephen Bennett, Waterford, Sean Fin, Limerick and Jordan Conway, Kerry. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

“As a new management team, we’re going to be looking at the lads and working out fellas’ strengths and weaknesses,” said Fanning, “Even looking at how they approach individual games. That all gives you a better insight into how they deal with competitive matches.

“In that sense, it comes at a good time of the year as well because it leads you into the national league, you’re getting two games and possibly a final, that works out well also.

It fits into our schedule well and we’re looking forward to it. Any game we go out to play in, we want to do well and to see if the things we’re working on in training are working in games, are starting to come off.

“We also have our own targets we’re building towards for later in the year, so it’s not the end of the world if this competition doesn’t work out, but we want to be competitive in every game.

"You’d see with Kilkenny over the years how seriously they treat the Walsh Cup, and when I was involved with Waterford last in 2010 and we won the Munster Championship, we won the then-Waterford Crystal league earlier that year.

“You can’t underestimate the momentum you get from winning. As for the panel, Tom Devine is probably not available next year given his pursuit of a medical career, but we’d be hopeful down the line he might become available again.”

Fanning was speaking at the launch of the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League, 2019. Jim Woulfe, CEO of Dairygold Co-Operative, said: “We are very pleased to join forces once again with Munster GAA in what is an extraordinary and unprecedented era for hurling.

"As an organisation deeply embedded in Munster Dairygold, through our network of retail stores and our online store is connected with the GAA across all communities.

“We are looking forward to being part of another exciting league which gets the 2019 hurling season underway in Munster.”

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