Waterford football has been rocked by the decision of players from county championship-winning side Stradbally to snub Tom McGlinchey’s senior set-up for the 2016 season.
The Stradbally players’ reasons are believed to be two-fold; crisis of confidence in management and a protest at the manner in which last year’s county championship was run off.
The stand-off will rob manager Tom McGlinchey and his backroom team of up to six players for their upcoming Division 4 league campaign.
Tommy Connors, Shane and Robert Ahearne, and David and Tony Grey have lined out for the county in recent seasons, while Jack Mullaney, a member of the U21 team last year, was another tipped for senior selection in 2016.
Mullaney is one of five Stradbally footballers involved with the Waterford U21s as player grievances lie solely at senior level.
The south Waterford club were forced to play Nemo Rangers in the Munster championship just 24 hours after annexing their 18th county title last November, a decision that greatly infuriated both players and management, given the Waterford footballers had been knocked out of the All-Ireland championship since mid-June, providing ample time to conclude the county championship before the provincial competitions.
Efforts were made by members of the Waterford management before Christmas to coax the Stradbally players, in particular Shane Ahearne, to rejoin the county panel.
Stradbally Club officials also intervened to encourage their leading players to return to the inter-county fold, but relations remain fragmented.
The Waterford footballers open their 2016 campaign away to Cork in tomorrow night’s McGrath Cup re-fixture at Mallow (throw-in 8pm).
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