Dan Shanahan wants pressure eased on student hurlers

Waterford selector Dan Shanahan says this is a “very pressurised time” for students playing inter-county hurling and football who must also face end-of-year exams, adding that “more attention” should be paid to the issue.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s NHL final replay clash with Clare, Shanahan said: “I was quoted during the week as asking for players to be paid. I never said that — I said they should be taken care of better.

“For instance, if they got through a hard game on a Sunday, maybe the GAA could cover fellas’ wages for a Monday they could use for recovery. Or make a contribution to a team’s holiday funds or training funds.

“You’re talking about students a lot of the time now on county panels.

Those lads are doing their exams — a lot of them doing final exams, very pressurised exams - and they have to combine that with the pressure of a high-profile game this weekend now as well.

“I know the GPA are doing great work and I’m not criticising the GAA, but more could be done for these players.

“Panels are so young now in all counties that there should be more attention paid to this.”

Back to tomorrow’s game. Clare attacker Podge Collins picked up key Waterford player Austin Gleeson at times in the drawn game.

Was Shanahan surprised by that match-up?

“You have to admire Davy for what he did as a player and a manager.

“We knew that Austin (Gleeson) would get special attention because he did when playing for WIT against LIT (managed by Fitzgerald) in the Fitzgibbon Cup. We didn’t think it would be Podge doing it.

“Davy’s a great tactician, he’ll always come up with something different, and he has very good players to work with, too. We have huge respect for Clare.”

Amid widespread disgruntlement about the entertainment value of the drawn game, Shanahan dismissed criticism of Waterford’s approach.

“We don’t pay any attention to so-called experts.

“They’re entitled to think and say what they want, but if we win tomorrow, ten points to nine, we’ll take it.

“The way some people are talking, you’d swear we were winning leagues every year.

“I’m used to that from playing, to criticism, and what we’ve advised the lads to do is to pay no attention but to listen to what Derek (McGrath) is telling them. They believe in us and we believe in them.

“Is it upsetting when some of your own are knocking you?

“It can be, but the players know what we’re about.”

The Lismore man is just satisfied Waterford are back at the top table. “We feel it’s great that Waterford are back competing with the top teams in the country.

“Most people would accept that there’s very little between the top teams, the results bear that out, and we’re happy that Waterford are back in there competing with those top teams.

“When we came in as a management team there weren’t too many interested in the job; now, all of a sudden people are seeing the little success we’ve had and everyone is an expert. Everyone thinks they can do it, and there’s a lot of lads interested in the job.

“The team are great to work with. To be honest, the hardest part of the job is just picking 26 for a game, to leave out four or five for a big day.

“That’s very hard on those lads, they’re putting in the same effort as the others, they’re the ones who make training work because they’re there at all the sessions.

“I’d love it if you were allowed to name the 30, and were allowed to make your substitutions from all of those, because it’d be fairer.”

Waterford hope to have a full squad to select from: “We’re hoping Shane Fives will be okay, Austin (Gleeson) just cramped up towards the end.

“No surprise, 90 minutes not including injury-time, that there were lads cramping up everywhere.

“I know it wasn’t the greatest game to watch but it opened up and you couldn’t question the commitment fellas were showing, on both teams.

“The hitting, the intensity was huge. A lot of players seemed to have blisters, for instance, and were walking into the dressing-rooms afterwards with their boots off.

“We certainly expect Clare to come with a massive effort again, the same as last weekend. We’ve worked hard all week to counter them, as they have. Clare have good players, fine hurlers, and we have huge respect for them.”


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