Waterford camp confident Austin Gleeson will win fitness fight

Selector Eoin Murphy suggested last night that the former hurler of the year will be recovered from back and ankle issues in time for the county’s Munster Championship opener, against Clare at Cusack Park, on May 27.

Team-mate Pauric Mahony is another who is concentrating on returning to full health at the moment. 

The Ballygunner man is carrying a finger injury right now and Murphy is insistent that there is no “huge concern” over either.

“We’ve been told they just need to be managed,” said Murphy at the launch of the provincial championship in Bunratty.

“It mightn’t allow (Gleeson) to train for the next week maybe or so. We’ve been told he should be okay. Everybody is important at this stage.”

Waterford are in a unique position in the brave new world of the restructured hurling championship in that they will play all of their round robin games away from Walsh Park, their ‘home’ ties being held in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds and Semple Stadium.

Murphy accepts that it loads the dice somewhat against the Déise in the weeks to come while doing his best to paint the situation as something to be embraced by a side that was relegated to Division 1B of the league recently.

“Someone did up the stats there recently for this year and it was a 70% strike rate (for the home team in Division 1 of the league). So, seven out of ten isn’t bad. We’re hoping that we can be in the three out of ten and sneak up there and get a win or two.

“It’s a tough one. We would have liked it to be played in Waterford but it is what it is. Walsh Park is going to be developed and future generations will hopefully get to witness Munster Championship there. For us, travelling away is a challenge.”

Thurles has long been something of a home from home for the county but Murphy admits their record in Cusack Park, for instance, isn’t that encouraging. The challenge firstly, will be turning that history on its head.

“There is something nice about going into the cauldron that is Cusack Park with the home team and the crowd and the majority of people against you,” he reasoned. 

“You can find motivation out of that as well.”

It may be grasping at straws but Murphy went as far as to suggest that playing home games at a jam-packed Walsh Park could have worked against a Waterford squad having to deal with the buzz and the demand for limited tickets for the visits of Tipperary and Cork.

Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park had been aired as a possible venue for Waterford’s home ties but the ground’s location beyond the bounds of Munster always left that an unlikely option and so it proved when the fixtures were announced.


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