Owens offers Hurney time to consider Déise football return

WATERFORD football boss John Owens will give Gary Hurney time to make a decision on his future inter-county plans after he pulled out of the county hurling squad.

Hurney has been a key figure for the Waterford footballers in recent years but after juggling both codes last year, he opted to commit solely to the hurlers at the start of this season.

Hurney’s withdrawal from Davy Fitzgerald’s setup now paves the way for him to link up with the football panel again but Owens insists he will not pressurise him into returning.

“I was just made aware of Gary’s withdrawal over the weekend. I think he will want a bit of time now to make a decision on where he wants to go.

“Certainly he’d be a very good addition if he was available and we’re definitely going to leave the door open for him to come on board if he wants. But I think what Gary needs is time and it would be wrong to pressurise him into making a decision on his future.”

Hurney’s return would boost Waterford’s promotion aspirations from Division 4 of the NFL after last Saturday night’s excellent victory against Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds left them vying for top spot with Clare and Wicklow. After recent draws against Longford and Carlow, Owens was delighted with his team showing a killer instinct to conjure up a late winner courtesy of attacker Wayne Hennessy.

“It was great to get the win after coming close in recent matches. It was a competitive match, as reflected on the scoreboard and Limerick are a very good side. They were missing John Galvin and Ian Ryan who are huge players. It was a very important win in a tight division. Our main ambition this year was to win promotion. We have serious matches coming up and there are a lot of teams in contention in this division. To keep in the hunt we needed that win over Limerick.”

Waterford are not in action this weekend as they have a bye but will welcome back captain Tony Grey and Eamonn Walsh for their clash on Sunday week at home to Wicklow. Grey missed the Limerick game through suspension while Walsh was sidelined with a hand injury.

Meanwhile Mayo boss Ray Dempsey has announced an unchanged side for tomorrow’s Connacht U21FC semi-final against Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park from the team that defeated Leitrim in last week’s quarter-final. Senior players Kevin McLoughlin and Aidan O’Shea both emerged unscathed from Saturday night’s NFL victory against Derry, and take their places at centre-forward and full-forward respectively. Opponents Roscommon have named senior star Donie Shine at full-forward with his younger brother Cathal starting outside him at centre-forward.

MAYO U21: R Hennell; P Mulchrone, S McHale, M Gallagher; L Keegan, E Reilly, S Prendergast; G McDonagh, S Nally; C Carolan, K McLoughlin, J Doherty; N Douglas, A O’Shea, A Freeman.

ROSCOMMON U21: D O’Malley; J Sharkey, N Collins, M Higgins; J McKeague, N Daly, E Bannon; N Carty, K Higgins; P Garvey, C Shine, B Murtagh; A O’Hara, D Shine, N Kilroy.

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