And while the deferral of the game by a week will have undoubtedly suited Wexford following their Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny, there are also benefits for Waterford.
None more than for midfielder and captain Tony Browne, who has now recovered from the ankle ligament injury which seriously threatened his participation in the Munster final against Cork. Browne bravely lined out and went through the pain barrier before being forced to retire in the closing quarter. He has continued to receive treatment since and is now in flying form in training.
The Waterford team is unlikely to be announced tonight but already speculation is mounting that there will be changes, both personal and positional, from the provincial final. Brian Flannery, Peter Queally and Dan Shanahan, all of whom were left out against Cork, are certain to come strongly into the reckoning this time. But with at least 19 genuine contenders for places no-one will envy manager Justin McCarthy and fellow selectors Colm Bonnar and Seamie Hannon their task.
Meanwhile, senior panellists Niall Power and Brian Phelan have been drafted into the Waterford team to play Cork in tomorrow night’s Munster IHC final in Cashel (7.30). Named at right and left half forward, respectively, they replace Lismore’s Michael O’Sullivan and Gary Hurney of Abbeyside from the team that narrowly outscored Limerick in the semi.
The Deise side, bidding to become the first from the county to win a Munster title in this grade, has experience in abundance. Goalkeeper Brendan Landers and central defenders Sean Cullinane and James O’Connor were senior regulars for several years, while full-forward Sean Daly and corner forward Anthony Kirwan have also played in several Munster senior championship campaigns.
Roy McGrath, brother of senior stars Ken and Eoin, returns to midfield after missing the semi-final through injury where he will be partnered by Portlaw’s Andrew Kirwan. He takes over from Kenny Stafford, who moves to right half back where his Mount Sion club colleague John Cleere loses out.
Other changes in a reshuffled attack see David Howard move from corner to centre forward in a direct swap with Anthony Kirwan.
Cork, who defeated champions Tipperary by eight points in their semi, have had to make changes due to players going to the USA for the summer. Both Vincent Hurley (Courcey Rovers) and Rory O’Dwyer (Ballymartle) who figured at centre back and midfield, respectively, against Tipp have been replaced by Brendan Lombard and Alan O’Connor.
Other changes see Brian Murphy coming in at left corner back for Damien McNamara and Jason Barrett taking over at midfield from Ger Holland.
Six members of the team which dethroned All-Ireland champions Limerick in the Munster U21 championship last week are included, Martin Coleman, Michael Prout, Brian Murphy, Kevin Hartnett and Diarmuid O’Riordan.
WATERFORD (IH v Cork): B Landers (Lismore); N O’Donnell (Ballygunner), S Cullinane (Passage East), S Kearney (Lismore); K Stafford (Mount Sion), J O’Connor (Lismore), C Kehoe (Ballygunner); R McGrath (Mount Sion), Andrew Kirwan (Portlaw); N Power (Dunhill), D Howard (Lismore), B Phelan (De La Salle); T Reid (St Mollerans), S Daly (Lismore), Anthony Kirwan (Mt Sion)
CORK (IH v Waterford): M Coleman (Ballinhassig); M Prout (Shamrocks), J O’Brien (Milford), B Murphy (Bride Rovers); J Hughes (Blarney), B Lombard (Ballinhassig), K Hartnett (Russell Rovers); A O’Connor (Rathluirc), J Barrett (Carrigtwohill); J O’Callaghan (Castletownroche), B Coleman (Youghal), S Hayes (Courcey Rovers); V Morrissey (Aghada), D O’Riordan (Inniscarra), J Quinlan (Rathluirc). Subs: A Nash (Kanturk), D McNamara (Kilworth), D Lynch (Ballygiblin), T Healy (Buttevant), D Fitzgerald (Rathluirc), O Conway (Fr O’Neills), G Holland (do.), D Moher (Ballygiblin), J Murphy (Courcey Rovers).