ALLIANZ HL DIVISION 1A: Waterford v Tipperary
Waterford manager Michael Ryan didn’t spend this week crying over spilt milk.
His charges were leading Kilkenny in Nowlan Park last week before being overhauled by a soft Matthew Ruth goal, but Ryan saw enough positives to feel upbeat about tomorrow’s date with Tipperary at Walsh Park.
“I thought we did well,” said Ryan.
“We were in a very good position but gave away a couple of scores at the wrong time, and Kilkenny took full advantage of those.
“That’s not just from a goalkeeping point of view, but from a defensive point of view. Overall, though, the application and the attitude were top class, and we played some very good hurling against the wind, in particular.
“We got scores just after half-time to steady the ship, to get back out in front, though we probably needed another score or two. We had a bad time maybe with the goals, maybe, the second one in particular, but, overall, there were some positives we could take out of it.”
Waterford have avoided the injury blitz that strained their resources in last year’s league; though Ryan still has a couple of medium-term worries, team captain Kevin Moran, withdrawn last weekend, will be fit to play.
“Kevin will be okay and Darragh Fives may be back in contention too,” said Ryan.
“Noel Connors is making good progress as well.
“We’ll know exactly where we stand at the weekend. Maurice Shanahan had two operations in November but he’s been working very hard since then, and his attitude has been fantastic. He may be in contention to start as well at the weekend.”
Tipperary come to Walsh Park with the scalps of both All-Ireland finalists hanging from the belt; last weekend’s dismissal of Galway was particularly impressive.
“It’s been a topsy-turvy league, you just have to look at the table after the first round of games, and look at the table going into this weekend’s games.
“I think that’s going to continue until Sunday week, too — that nobody will know exactly where they stand until the last ball has been pucked. It’s been very competitive, and from the spectators’ point of view that’s got to be good.
“Tipp are going to be a tall order on Sunday but we’ve trained well and we’ll be ready. I’m happy that we have a full panel available apart from a couple of injuries, which I’ve mentioned. I’d be happy then that we’ll have good competition for places then — now, you’re always looking for more lads to come in and to challenge the established players, but that’s the same for all teams.
“I’d be happy enough that we’ll have a good team come championship time.”
Ryan added that long-serving Tony Browne will meet the management soon to discuss his future. “Tony is on his own programme and we’ll sit down for a chat with him in the next couple of weeks to see where he’s at. I have no doubt he’s followed that programme religiously, as he always does — it’s always been in his nature to look after himself, and if anyone can come back in top shape, he can.”
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