Colm Bonnar seeks replay delay for exhausted WIT hurlers

Waterford IT manager Colm Bonnar has pleaded with Comhairle Ardoideachais chiefs to delay the Fitzgibbon Cup final replay until next week.

Saturday’s extra-time decider marked WIT’s third outing in five days, a fourth game in one week for Waterford hurlers Austin Gleeson, Jake Dillon and Pauric Mahony.

Bonnar had hoped for two further five-minute periods of extra-time on Saturday night to bring the competition to a close.

Confusion reigned at the end of extra-time until both teams were informed there would be a replay and the WIT boss is adamant his players are afforded sufficient recovery.

“I hope now they won’t play it for at least a week and a half. If they play it this week, it will just be too much for our lads,” he said.

“I think both teams would rather have finished it out tonight. We arrived down here on Thursday night and we still haven’t gone home.

“There is a big cost on the college. You put so much into it, I think both colleges would rather have seen it out tonight. We are grateful to be still in it but unhappy that it wasn’t finished here.

“With inter-county coming next weekend, I don’t think managers will allow their players out this week. Wednesday would be too soon, and then to have to go out and play a county game at the weekend.

“They need a full weeks rest. The likes of Pauric Mahony, he has played four top-class games in a week, two of which required extra-time. So you couldn’t ask them to play again this week.

“I hope they make the correct decision and fix the game for a week and a half from here.”

Bonnar hailed the never-say-die attitude of his troops, reeling off four unanswered points in the final five minutes to force a second day out.

“In fairness to the players I don’t know where they get it from. They just kept coming back and coming back. I was very worried after the first 15 minutes. We were playing with a gale force wind and we couldn’t seem to get any sort of a rhythm. We were very sluggish.

“We set up better for the second-half and started driving at them. Johnny Hayes came on and scored a couple of points. I thought he actually had the winner there. Then we gave away a free at the wrong time just when we needed to hold it up.

“They kept getting the goals when we looked to be coming back into it. I thought our lads might die at some stage. But they kept going and going. They just refused to be defeated. That was great character from the team.”

UL manager Brian Lohan was relieved to still be in the hunt for silverware.

“We thought we were in a good position at half-time, leading by two and the wind to come. WIT changed things around and got their shape.

“I think we struggled to win any puck-out in the second-half. That sweeper did very well for them. In the same way that the sweeper worked well for us in the first-half. Both teams played better against the breeze than with it.

“Our wide count wasn’t good and then our free count went completely against us in the second-half as well. You could have said at full-time we looked to have lost it.

“There are very small margins between victory and defeat. We are happy not to have been beaten.”


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