No place like home: Noel Connors on where he wants Waterford to play in 2019

Nowlan Park or Thurles is where Noel Connors would like the Waterford hurlers to play their home games in 2019.

With the proposed redevelopment of Walsh Park not expected to be complete until late in 2019, at the earliest, Waterford, next year, will again play their two Munster championship home fixtures outside of the county.

This summer, the county played Cork in Thurles and Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds. They had hoped to have the latter game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but this wasn’t doable.

Waterford corner-back Connors said, Nowlan Park, as their home venue would be “great” and was left scratching his head when the Leinster SHC final replay was fixed for Thurles, given Waterford were told they couldn’t use the Kilkenny ground for home games as it was not in the province.

“I am aware there is some rule which says you have to play in Munster, which, apparently, they don’t have in Leinster. Maybe, they can amend this.

Either Nowlan Park or Thurles would be options. Ideally, we’d like to play in Walsh Park given the stats; if you’re away from home you have a 30% chance of winning.

“If you are moving beyond Walsh Park, [it would be] Nowlan Park or Thurles. They tried to get Thurles this year and it wasn’t an option.

“Maybe, it is something we need to sit down as a squad and think about. Obviously, sit down with whoever comes in as manager and have a chat about it.”

The three-time All-Star refused to use their lack of home advantage as an excuse for missing out on a top-three spot in Munster. He also said the squad never contemplated digging their heels in over Walsh Park in the same manner as the Kildare footballers.

We knew early on we weren’t going to play in Walsh Park or Fraher Field, so we just accepted it and tried to get on with it. It was more the distance that was the issue. Obviously, we were in Ennis first and then Limerick and Limerick, which, for us, you are talking about three-hour journeys three weeks in-a-row.

“It is hard enough, psychologically, to play three weeks in-a-row, but having the added travel up and down, having to get off the bus after a long period of time. They are all factors you have to take into account. Even if we played in Nowlan Park, it would have been, perhaps, a small bit easier for us or in Thurles because we are used to it.”

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