Seán Stack fears Waterford strategy could ‘disintegrate’

The man who captained Clare to their last national hurling league title win in 1978 believes Waterford play to their current system to help cover up deficiencies.

Clare play reigning league champions in the 2016 NHL final on Sunday in Thurles and will be hoping to bridge a 38-year-gap since the Banner’s last league title.

Seán Stack captained Clare to their second successive league final defeat of Kilkenny in 1978.

“Waterford are playing to certain patterns but I think they have to play in group situations and pack the defence. I don’t have the admiration for Waterford a lot of people seem to have.

“I wouldn’t be a massive admirer of them at all. They do have great leaders though. They have phenomenal players in Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony and ‘Brick’ Walsh is just out of this world. He’d be on any team.

“But you’re not going to fly with three geese. There are a lot of other ordinary players and if they start getting in trouble in matches, you’ll see the worst of them. They’re going to disintegrate,” the Sixmilebridge man told this week’s Clare Champion

Stack believes ‘appetite and work rate’ are key ingredients of successful teams — something this Clare side have in abundance.

“The sign of great Gaelic players is the day things are going wrong for you, you’re still a big contributor. You’ll block or you’ll hook. That’s what made Clare the last day against Kilkenny. Their turnovers were phenomenal as was their crowding of players. TJ Reid must have thought he was in a phone box because every time he turned there was someone and when he turned again there was someone else. Richie Hogan was the same.

“In a big field like Thurles he had nowhere to turn. That’s because the Clare lads have that savage hunger. They’re crowding them and there are two or three around a fella. They made Kilkenny look ordinary but it won’t always happen like that.

“Hurling isn’t written on a blackboard. Appetite and work rate are a priority and the rest follows,” the retired secondary school teacher maintained. Stack, however, is somewhat bemused at the size of Clare’s backroom team which numbers more than 30.

“I better not get into that one now. It might be picked up incorrectly. I find if you have more than two people to consult with it gets confusing. I was teaching all my life and if you kept one guy with you happy, you had a good days work done. How the hell can you keep 30 happy? Fair play to Fitzy if he can keep 30 people happy and then turn around and try to keep all the players happy after that.

God help the next man. That’s all I’ll say,” he smiled.

Stack doesn’t feel playing division 1 ‘B’ hurling is an issue as long as a county has a decent panel. If Clare win on Sunday they will be the second successive division 1 ‘B’ team to win the league.

“It doesn’t seem to be any hindrance anyway. It has been proven it’s no drawback. That’s good enough now when you have the quantity of players because you’ll need top rate match practice and they’re obviously having it in training. In my time we could never have a serious internal match because the numbers weren’t there. There seemed to be a massive gap between the first 16 or 17 to the rest. Now they seem to have 35 on any given day.”

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