Jim Greene backs Waterford call on Gaelic Grounds

Former Waterford star Jim Greene has endorsed the county’s decision not to return to Thurles to face Tipperary in next month’s Munster SHC final.

Jim Greene backs Waterford call on Gaelic Grounds

The Déise narrowly lost to the home team in Semple Stadium in last year’s decider but their reluctance to return there meant the Munster Council, with Tipperary’s support as well as Waterford’s, opted to fix the game for the Gaelic Grounds on July 10.

Affording Tipperary home advantage for a second successive year is not something the Mount Sion legend would be comfortable with, although he points out the location of the game is secondary to the team’s performance on the day.

“Last year we went to Thurles and unfortunately we don’t have a field ourselves to take it. A home and away agreement is not something we’re capable of and Cork is not available so we had the simple choice of Thurles or Limerick.

“Playing Tipperary in Thurles is never a good idea. I know we caught them there in the league this year and it’s a beautiful field and all the players love playing there but Tipp in a Munster final there is daunting. There’s added pressure and we don’t need that and Limerick is the only alternative.

“If I was manager of Waterford and I had the choice of Thurles or Limerick, I would take them to the neutral venue. But at the end of the day, it’s not about where you play but how you play. If we play to the top of our form, I think we can take Tipp but if we don’t we won’t and I don’t think the field will have much of a say in that. It’s come down to attitude and I think our attitude is great.”

The Gaelic Grounds has not been a happy hunting ground for Waterford. Their last championship game there saw them go down heavily to Clare in a 2008 Munster opener, which precipitated the end of Justin McCarthy’s reign as manager.

Greene was a member of the team that lost the 1983 provincial final there to Cork by 19 points. “It’s not been a great place for us and I was manager of a couple of minor and U21 teams and it wasn’t great for us on those occasions either.

“It’s a slow pitch in nature. I always found that, even as a player. The ball wasn’t as lively as it would be in Thurles. There’s nothing wrong with the field, it’s a fine stadium in fairness and Waterford can’t be cribbing about other people’s pitches.

“It’s a good supporters’ stadium, a good viewing stadium so there are no issues around that. It’s not a bad trip from Waterford. I know it’s handy for Tipp but it’s not like we’re going a million miles.”

In all his 67 years, Greene has never been more optimistic about a Waterford team. “Realistically, it’s the first time I’m actually believing that if we’re patient enough with this bunch of chaps we can win an All-Ireland. The common talk in the pubs of Waterford was ‘will we ever see it in our lifetime?’ I think this present crop of young fellas and management team who have it in their stomachs, who have it in their hearts, have a realistic chance of going all the way in the next three to four years.

“I hope this season but they’re going to mature. I was 10 in 1959 and I was at the match but it’s the first time in my adult conscience of hurling that I have real confidence we can win an All-Ireland. My son was involved in ’98 when we had a great chance as well but this team have the potential.”

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