Waterford SFC final: The best footballers in Waterford will be on show tomorrow when Stradbally and The Nire collide for the seventh time in 13 years at Fraher Field.
According to former Déise manager John Kiely, the final destination of the Conway Cup may hinge on the duel between headline acts Michael Walsh and Shane Walsh. These two experienced campaigners steered their respective sides to semi-final victory last weekend and could come into direct opposition on county final Sunday.
Kiely marvelled at the display produced by Stradbally No 6 Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh against Ballinacourty. “He gave one of his finest ever performances for Stradbally. He dominated the game from centre-back. He is a top quality centre back. If he gives another display like that it will copper-fasten the footballer of the year for him. He has been super this year for Stradbally.”
Kiely expects recently retired inter-county hurler Shane Walsh to slot into centre-forward for the Nire and commence battle with the Brick. “They will probably put Shane Walsh on him. Shane is a super footballer. He has been playing senior hurling for the county for a number of years but I’ve no doubt he is a better footballer. He is a top quality inter-county footballer. He was suffering a bit with injuries this year so it depends if he is 100%. That would be a battle, if Shane Walsh is on the Brick.”
Three county minors also appear on the teamsheet and Kiely thinks that they could make a big splash. “The two young players for Stradbally in Jack Mullaney and Michael Sweeney have contributed. In Conor Gleeson, I believe the Nire have the best minor footballer in Munster.”
Four of their previous six final meetings required replays. Given that familiarity, Kiely anticipates another arm wrestle. “The 2002 drawn match (3-8 to 2-11) was a classic. They tend to be tough, physical battles and tactics play a big part in it. I’m not expecting a wide open game.”
Kiely backs the Reds to capture title number 18, by a whisker.
“That semi-final against Ballinacourty was of a very high standard, and Stradbally came out on top. There’s some wonderful players on The Nire team as well with the O’Gormans, Brian Wall, Liam Lawlor, Shane Walsh and young Conor Gleeson coming through. I think it’s going to be a tactical battle and Stradbally will come out on top.”
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