A decision won’t be made until the Munster Council give final approval at a meeting in Limerick this evening. However, indications are pointing towards the game taking place in Thurles on July 12, as the provincial decider between the counties was in 2009.
Waterford executive board members met with manager Derek McGrath yesterday morning to seek counsel in making their decision. They were told by McGrath that Semple Stadium would be his venue of preference and he has no difficulty facing Tipperary on their home pitch. The Déise have already won there twice this year, having beaten Cork in the Division 1 final and the recent Munster semi-final.
As Walsh Park is not suitable, Waterford and Tipperary don’t have a home and away arrangement. Unless the pair shake hands on a deal which is acceptable to the Munster Council, a neutral venue will be selected.
With Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which hosted the counties’ finals in 2011 and ‘12, currently under reconstruction, the two alternatives to Thurles are the Gaelic Grounds and Fitzgerald Stadium. The Munster Council have already indicated to Waterford and Tipperary that the Killarney venue won’t be considered.
While mindful that the Gaelic Grounds is a neutral venue, Waterford officials are also aware of the difficulties supporters would face in making a significantly longer journey to Limerick compared to Thurles.
It’s unlikely much of the details of a would-be arrangement between the counties will come to light. In 2009 Waterford admitted they had sought €50,000 to give their potential final opponents - Cork or Tipperary - home advantage.
In 2011 then Munster chairman Sean Walsh revealed Waterford had looked for a financial “sweetener” to agree to the final being played at Semple Stadium before it was decided the game take place at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Walsh said a year later: “Then came a proposal from a Waterford delegate that they would consider coming to Thurles for the final if what he called a ‘sweetener’ was on the table. A ‘sweetener’ was something that came up last year (2011) - that if Waterford came to Thurles they’d get some of the money due to Semple Stadium for the hosting of that match.
“That’s a system we ruled completely out of order last year because that would throw all of our neutral venues expecting matches into doubt because anybody could go away then, do a deal with the host county and get money for it.
“We made it quite obvious and quite plain then that there wouldn’t be a sweetener on the table but if they wanted to go to Thurles, they could make a proposal.
“When the sweetener wasn’t on the table, he withdrew the proposal of going to Thurles.”
In 2012, Waterford, with the backing of their then senior hurling management team led by Michael Ryan, attempted to move the game to Thurles but it failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority from Munster’s Competitions Control Committee. It was explained Páirc Uí Chaoimh as a neutral venue had been agreed upon prior to the teams winning their respective semi-finals.
Meanwhile Waterford’s CCC will meet tonight to discuss the referee’s report from Sunday’s 30-man brawl between Dungarvan and Mount Sion at Fraher Field.
County chairman Paddy Joe Ryan was present at the senior hurling championship game along with members of the CCC. He indicated that the committee will act swiftly to adjudicate on the matter after referee Dessie O’Leary submits his report.
“I am not a member of the committee but I spoke with the chairman of the CCC.
“They are waiting on the referee’s report and then they will be taking it from there. There were members of the CCC at the match and they will be looking at the situation as they saw it themselves. The referee’s report plays a vital part in it because he is the independent arbitrator.”
The fracas lasted eight minutes in the first half between players and mentors from both sides. O’Leary dismissed Austin Gleeson and Colm Curran for their involvement before managers Ken McGrath and James O’Connor gathered their players at opposite ends of the pitch. Three red cards and eight yellows were flashed over the sixty minutes.
Ryan was dismayed by the appalling scenes. “I was very disappointed with what happened. I saw it all from the stand. I’m sure there is nobody more disappointed than the two clubs themselves after it. It’s something that we wouldn’t like to see happening.”
The Déise chairman stated that these occurrences are rare at club championship matches in the county: “Incidents like this are very isolated in Waterford thankfully. We don’t like to see anything like that happening on our playing fields.”