The preparations of both Waterford and Limerick for tonight’s Electric Ireland Munster MHC final replay in Semple Stadium (7.30pm) have focused on the mental rather than the physical side of the game.
Waterford’s flying finish in the drawn game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday week meant a replay between the sides for the second year in a row.
Déise manager Derek Lyons admits there hasn’t been much leeway to work on things in training.
“When it’s nine days later, it’s hard to do much,” he said. “You have to first allow the lads to recover from the drawn match and then there’ll be a few knocks too so you want to let them heal. It’s not like you can go arranging challenge matches so basically you just focus on the mental side of things.
“We’ll have a different game plan to what we had and I think Limerick will as well, so it’s just a matter of making sure everybody is focused.”
Whoever loses must take on defeated Leinster finalists Dublin at noon on Sunday in the All-Ireland quarter-final (also in Thurles).
“There’s a big difference between winning and losing,” Lyons said.
“If you win, you’re straight into the semi-final and you’ve three and a half weeks to prepare for that but if you lose it’s only five days until the All-Ireland quarter-final.
“That means that the prize is much bigger than just a Munster title.”
Neither side has played in Thurles yet this year and Lyons has no problems with the choice of venue.
“As far as neutral venues go, it’s the best possible choice,” he said.
“There won’t be a crib from either side, I suppose the one big benefit from our point of view is that we might have a bigger support. It was difficult to get access to tickets the last day with Limerick being in the senior final too and the level of support definitely gave them a boost. We’d hope to see a lot more Waterford fans there.”
Limerick have made one change, with Conor Byrnes coming in as an indirect replacement for Conor Fitzgerald, who was injured in the first half of the drawn match.
Last year, it was the Shannonsiders who struck late to force a replay, which they won, but manager Brian Ryan doesn’t feel that they are at a disadvantage for having lost the lead in the drawn match.
“I think everything is back to zero,” he said. “We’re Munster champions, they’re All-Ireland champions so we knew that it was going to be a battle the last time and it will again.
“The main thing is just to keep the players fresh, they’ve had a tough championship and a few had the Leaving Cert too.
“We’ve done a bit of video analysis and basically we’re just trying to build on the positives and minimise the mistakes but Waterford will be trying to do the same.”
WATERFORD: B Nolan (Roanmore); D Prendergast (Lismore), E Hayden (Ballygunner), M Cronin (Ardmore); D Lyons (Dungarvan), C Roche (Shamrocks), C Prunty (Abbeyside); J Mullaney (Stradbally), A Molumby (Cappoquin); S Bennett (Ballysaggart), C Curran (Brickey Rangers), C Gleeson (Fourmilewater); P Hogan (Ballygunner), P Curran (Dungarvan), S Ryan (De La Salle).
LIMERICK: E McNamara (Doon); S Finn (Bruff), P O’Loughlin (Kilmallock), J Porter (Monaleen); L Lyons (Monaleen), A La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen), C Byrnes (Murroe/Boher); R Hanley (Kilmallock), C Lynch (Patrickswell); S Flanagan (Feohanagh/Castlemahon), B Nash (South Liberties), R Lynch (Na Piarsaigh); P Casey (Na Piarsaigh), T Morrissey (Ahane), C Ryan (Pallasgreen).
Subs: C Hedderman (Ballybrown), D Fanning (Pallasgreen), E Doyle (Monaleen), T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh), A Gillane (Patrickswell), S O’Connell (Doon), B Ryan (South Liberties), E Costelloe (Adare), D Dawson (Blackrock).