Carew insists Waterford 'in a good place' to stun Banner
Published 14/06/2014 | 02:30
THEy produced a hugely impressive performance last weekend but, like a lot of what Waterford's footballers do, it went largely unnoticed as they once again played second fiddle to the hurlers. It will be much the same this week.
Munster's small-ball semi-final between Clare and Cork will again overshadow tonight's football quarter-final replay between the Deise and the Banner, yet manager Niall Carew isn't complaining.
Just 1,768 attended last week's draw in Ennis. With their hurlers beaten by Cork, wouldn't it be great now if more of the Decies' supporters got behind the county's footballers in Fraher Field tonight?
"In fairness, Waterford people have always supported us whenever they can," ex-Kildare selector Carew says philosophically.
"It was a long trip to Ennis last week, but hopefully there'll be even more now that we're back in Dungarvan."
Clare's football profile has soared this year under new manager Colm Collins. They beat Waterford by seven points en route to the Division 4 league final and were strongly fancied to sweep past them last week, yet Carew had predicted beforehand that his team could upset the odds.
He's just as upbeat about the replay, even though his side needed a dramatic three-point comeback in the dying minutes to earn it, with scores from Shane Aherne and Paul Whyte pulling them out of the fire.
"Getting that result, down there, will do a lot for our lads' confidence, we're in a good place," Carew insists.
With a semi-final against Kerry the prize for tonight's winner there is a lot at stake for Waterford's unsung footballers.
In the O'Gorman twins Maurice and Thomas, Shane Briggs, Conor Phelan, Liam O Lionain, Brian Wall, Aherne and Whyte they have men with serious skill and experience.
Clare are weakened by the loss of Podge Collins and Carew has named an unchanged team that includes the O'Gormans' younger brother, Michael.
The team is dominated by west Waterford's football heartland, but Carew proudly points out that it includes two footballers from the city: Oran Keevers (De La Salle) and Dean Crowley (St Saviours, Ballybeg).
The only thing that appears to frustrate him is the shortage of finance. "I'd say our back-room team and budget are the smallest in the country and we don't get a penny from the supporters' group 'Club Deise'," he stresses.
"Most counties carry a panel of 40, but we can only afford to have 25-26. You'd love to have more, not just for playing, but because of the improvement it would make to those players individually when they play for their clubs."