Waterford manager Derek McGrath admits the close proximity of his team’s qualifier with the county’s U21 Munster semi-final next week is far from ideal.
The Déise face the winners of Clare and Wexford on Saturday week, just two days after their U21s clash with Cork in Walsh Park.
Cork agreed for the game to be brought forward to Wednesday and the request was ratified on Tuesday by the Munster Council. That would still mean two games in four days and McGrath sweating, as 13 of his panel are on the U21 squad and as many as seven starters.
It’s also over two times as many U21s Davy Fitzgerald has on his team.
Should Clare win in Wexford Park, players such as Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin and Seadna Morey face three games in seven days, including next Wednesday’s other Munster semi-final against Tipperary; four in 14 days including the extra-time draw with Wexford in Ennis last Saturday.
However, whatever happens to Waterford, McGrath insists they won’t be citing it as a mitigating circumstance on July 19.
“It’s not ideal but we won’t be using it as an excuse either way against Clare or Wexford. If it’s Clare who win, they could be in a similar situation. We are probably the only team who are very reliant on U21s as the core of our team. In actual fact, nearly half our team is U21.”
McGrath hopes the GAA’s plans to alter the club championship season to fit into the calendar year may provide the U21s with their own window in the season.
“It’s very hard to come up with any sort of solution other than playing it earlier in the championship. The fact that they’re looking at fitting the whole GAA season into the one year may be an opening for something, but then you’re looking at the majority of these players and they are playing Fitzgibbon Cup.
“It’s a difficult scenario. The big thing for us is psychological and where the players’ focus is going to be. Guys will want to do well and win with both teams. Jake Dillon is captain of our U21 team but he is also vice- captain of the senior team and you’re asking the guy to go to the well twice in two or three days, when everything in both games is on the line. It’s very hard to build up for a big game like the U21s’ semi-final and then our qualifier. It’s a big danger for us.”
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