Tactical battle in store

Possibility of two changes for showdown with Waterford

Brendan Furlong

Lee Chin at the launch of the All-Ireland series in the Glynn-Barntown club grounds in Killurin on Tuesday with Seán Curran (Tipperary), Mark Ellis (Cork), Aaron Cunningham (Clare), Johnny Coen (Galway) and Noel Connors (Waterford)
Lee Chin at the launch of the All-Ireland series in the Glynn-Barntown club grounds in Killurin on Tuesday with Seán Curran (Tipperary), Mark Ellis (Cork), Aaron Cunningham (Clare), Johnny Coen (Galway) and Noel Connors (Waterford)

One of the many talking points in the lead up to the Wexford versus Waterford All-Ireland Senior hurling championship quarter-final in the new surrounds of Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (4 p.m.) is: 'Who is going to win the tactical battle'?

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald is in no doubt that the game will go along those lines, as the players aim to gain revenge for their exit at the same stage to our neighbours last year.

'This will be a very tactical game, of that there is no doubt. Both sides play a similar type game, but Waterford have been playing this system for three years, while this is a first season for Wexford,' he said.

'Waterford tried to play 15 on 15 against Cork, but failed. They had to revert back to their more familiar style to gain success, so I expect no change in their style for this game.

Wexford have been playing a similar style for six months but have become more accustomed so it should not pose a problem for us,' he added.

Wexford have no fresh injury concerns as they wind down preparations this week, with some of the players who were ruled out of the provincial final now back to fitness.

However, Fitzgerald has said that Andrew Shore and Andrew Kenny will not be available.

'Both missed out on the Leinster final, Shore with a shoulder injury, and Kenny with a hamstring. This game is too soon for both,' the manager said.

'Damien Reck is very close, he will be there or thereabouts, and could make the cut, while David Dunne is also back from his hamstring, but suffers from lack of match practice. Should he make the squad the likes of him and Cathal Dunbar could be key players when speed is needed in the second-half.'

Although Fitzgerald and his backroom have still to decide on their squad, it will not be surprising to see Oulart-The Ballagh defender Eoin Moore come into the reckoning for a place, having impressed as a second-half substitute against Galway, while Podge Doran is close to forcing his way into the attack.

St. Anne's clubman Diarmuid O'Keeffe has rejoined the squad this week, having spent four days in Mexico last week, just missing out on one session, for the wedding of his brother, Micheál.

On the game itself, Fitzgerald is cautious as to what to expect.

'Look, Waterford will be hottest of favourites as everyone believes this is their time to deliver having promised so much, but they still have to perform.

'They are on the road longer than ourselves, so I can understand that.

'We have looked okay in training, put in the effort, while not killing the players last week, having training and time off.

'We have had a long season so it's difficult to know what to expect,' he said.

On the starting team he said there may be one or two changes, one in defence and one in attack, 'but we still have to decide'.

'Being part of the squad is important as both sides, like all teams, now rely on a squad. Waterford utilise their subs very well, and it now looks as if Wexford can also perform a similar routine with the subs bench.

'Wexford will need to make a statement in the opening 20 minutes, similar to the Leinster final when we started well against Galway, but will need to maintain concentration. The new surrounds of Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be the same for both, as Thurles would have suited Waterford better, having played there more often.

'We are looking forward to the challenge and what lies ahead,' he added.

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