THERE’S an obvious starting point when you chat to Clinton Hennessy, Waterford goalkeeper, about the 2010 season so far.
“I’m wearing a helmet, like everybody else,” says the Ardmore clubman. “It’s not too bad, actually. Over the Christmas I had a few pucks with it to try to get used to it, and the games have gone okay. We’ve only played two matches so far, though,”
Cork ’keeper Martin Coleman has said he wears his watching the television, to try to get used to it.
“I haven’t gone that far, but it’s not a bad idea. I’ve been wearing the helmet all the time in the training sessions, though, even when we go for a run, and that’s been a big help. There’s no choice anyway, you have to get used to it and that’s that.”
He’s also been getting used to some new faces. Waterford collected the Munster minor title last year and in the U21 provincial final they ran eventual All-Ireland winners Clare close in a fine game in Dungarvan. Is Hennessy conscious of the average age going down in the dressing-room?
“I don’t know about that, I know you’d feel fairly old at times! It’s great that there’s so many new young lads coming in – first of all it means we have more options, obviously, but it also means there’s more competition in training.
“There are two or three lads now hunting nearly every position on the team and that raises the intensity in training because lads are trying to hang onto their places. That’s bound to improve the team, when you have lads training so hard.”
With manager Davy Fitzgerald sending older players like Dan Shanahan, Ken McGrath, Eoin Murphy and Seamus Prendergast off to do specialised individual programmes, it also gives the younger players a chance to put their hands up for consideration in the national league.
“It’s a great chance for them to get good experience,” says the ’keeper. “They have the opportunities, now it’s up to them to take the chance. They can see what top-flight hurling is going to be like.”
This weekend Hennessy and his teammates take on UCC in the final of the Waterford Crystal Cup. They’ve enjoyed the tournament, he says.
“It’s always more enjoyable to be playing matches rather than training, you have to do the training anyway but if there’s a chance of a competitive game that’s great.
“Whatever people might say about these pre-season games, if you get as far as a final at any stage you’d want to win it, and it’d be a nice way to start off the year, with a trophy.
“You’d see fairly quick that the colleges tend to be a bit ahead of intercounty teams at this time of the year, they’re all building towards the Fitzgibbon Cup and they’ve got a fair base of fitness, so we’d be expecting UCC to give it a right rattle.
“They always have some very good players and obviously we’ll have a very young team out, with so many of the older lads missing. But it’ll be a good chance for those younger players to show what they can do.”
Hennessy reckons the far end of the field could be a particularly interesting spot.
“Richie Foley, who’s a Waterford senior hurler, has been playing full-back for UCC all along, and if he’s there again this weekend he’ll probably be picking up one of his own clubmates, Gary Hurney. That should make it pretty spicy!”
lWaterford Crystal Cup Final: Waterford v UCC, Fraher Field Dungarvan, tomorrow 2pm.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved