Dual stars Hurney and Walsh opt to focus on Déise hurling

WATERFORD football boss John Owens has revealed dual stars Gary Hurney and Shane Walsh are set to concentrate solely on hurling this year.

Both lined out for the Déise footballers in the Munster senior championship tie against Cork last season, but were also involved with Davy Fitzgerald’s squad, with Walsh scoring the decisive goal in their All-Ireland SHC quarter-final against Galway last July.

Walsh lined out for the Waterford hurlers in their season opener against Cork IT in the Waterford Crystal Cup last Sunday, and Owens believes it is better to know now where the pair’s loyalties lie for the season.

“The boys are playing with the hurlers now and that’s as far as it is. We wish them well in the hurling. I think they’ve made their minds up that that’s what they want to go playing and in ways it’s helpful that we know that because it sets us up for the next while with the boys we have. Gary and Shane are great footballers, they’re two Munster Railway Cup men actually so they’re hard to lose. But we have lost them and we’ll just have to get on with it now.”

Owens is also set to be without leading attacker Liam O Líonáin for the next few weeks as he struggles with a leg injury. The An Rinn forward has been Waterford’s leading marksman in recent seasons but Owens is hopeful of him returning during the National League and is also heartened by the emergence of new players to the Waterford attack.

“Liam O Lionáin is our major worry at the moment with a leg injury. He’s certainly a big player for us but he’s working through it and is taking his time with it and looking after himself very well. He’ll be a big bonus when he comes back. But the new lads in to our attack like Conor McGrath, Michael Donnelly and JJ Hutchinson have all improved our team scoring-wise, but more importantly they are working very hard as well. Robert Ahearne is doing very well also, he’s a big lad and can cause problems at full-forward and midfield.”

Waterford exited the McGrath Cup on Sunday when defeated by Kerry, but Owens is aiming to organise a series of challenge games before their NFL Division 4 opener against Leitrim on February 7.

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