Clare head down to the lion’s den this evening as they travel to Walsh Park to take on Waterford in the U21 Munster Hurling Championship semi-final.
Donal Moloney is in his second year as sole manager of the Banner having served as joint boss with Gerry O’Connor of the team since 2012. The Scariff man maintains that this year’s crop is arguably the most experienced with so many players in their final year of the grade, eight of their starting fifteen will be overage in 2017.
“We’ve a lot of last year’s group with us. In terms of age profile this is probably the most experienced panel we’ve had, the biggest group of lads on the age in my time involved, there’s a lot of experience in there from a college’s point of view aswell and they’ve worked hard the last two years” Moloney said in the lead-up to tonight’s game.
It will be a tough outing for the Banner with Waterford eager to atone for their defeat to Clare at this stage last year. Donal reveals that they cannot wait for the challenge. “It is going to be a tough test but we knew that once the draw was made. We have been looking forward to this game since then and it’s a tremendous challenge going into Walsh Park to play these guys and we really can’t wait for it”.
The Scariff man is hopeful a large Clare following will travel to Waterford but states that it won’t matter once the ball is thrown in. “We recognise for supporters it’s a big journey but hopefully people will come down and support the guys. Bit irrespective of whether we’re there on our own or there’s 50/50 in terms of Clare support. It won’t really matter to us, we’ll really embrace it”.
He doesn’t believe the Déise’s Munster Senior Final defeat to Tipperary will have an impact on their U21 team despite a number of players being on both panels. In contrast he feels Clare’s Intermediate win last week will give them extra belief.
Donal acknowledged the big names in the Waterford lineup but says Clare will be able to match them in this department. “There’s no easy opposition in Munster now, Tipp or Limerick would be equally tough and we’ve had some tremendous tussles with Waterford over a number of years now and we’re really looking forward to playing them again. We recognise that Waterford have a lot of top quality players but so have we and we’ve a great team.
Meanwhile Sean Power has named his Waterford team for the clash which throws-in at 7pm. He has included seven senior panellists in the team, Austin Gleeson starts at centre-back while there is a lethal full-forward comprised of the Bennett brothers and Patrick Curran.
1. Jordan Henley (Tallow)
2. William Hahessy (Clonea)
3. Conor Gleeson (Fourmilewater)
4. Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan)
5. Míchéal Harney (Bunmahon)
6. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)
7. Conor Prunty (Abbeyside)
8. Mark O’Brien (Ferrybank)
9. Colm Roche (Shamrocks)
10. DJ Foran (Portlaw)
11. Tom Devine (Modeligo)
12. Mikey Kearney (Ballyduff Upper)
13. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) – (Jt Capt.)
14. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart)
15. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart)