Deise fury as seniors, minors fixed for Croker on separate weekends
WATERFORD county board chairman Tom Cunningham has expressed "disbelief" at the GAA's decision to fix the county's senior and minor hurling championship semi-finals on separate Sundays at Croke Park.
The Deise seniors take on Kilkenny in the senior semi-final at HQ on August 7, with the minors asked to play Dublin a week later, as a curtain-raiser to the other senior semi-final between Tipperary and Dublin.
The suspicion in Waterford hurling circles is that GAA chiefs want to get Dublin fans "in early" ahead of the Tipp clash, and have therefore scheduled the capital's minors to play on August 14.
But Waterford insist that this is unfair as their supporters will have to endure 300-mile round trips on both Sundays if they wish to see both teams in action.
Instead, the Clare v Galway minor semi-final will act as the curtain-raiser to the Waterford v Kilkenny clash on August 7, and Cunningham has hit out at Croke Park fixtures-makers.
He said: "Waterford supporters are very angry but there's nothing we can do. We had a request in to facilitate our seniors and minors on the same day.
"My initial reaction is disbelief. Waterford supporters have to travel 150 miles each way to Croke Park and in the current financial climate, it's not fair to ask them to go to Dublin two weekends in a row."
Cunningham believes that Waterford's minors will be the big losers in terms of support, as he had anticipated the prospect of 15,000 fans travelling from the county had both teams been in action on the same day.
He admitted: "I don't know how many will go up on the second day -- the minors will be the big sufferers. I can't understand it."
Cunningham also slammed mindless 'supporters' who bombarded manager Davy Fitzgerald with "mysterious" phone calls and text messages following the 21-point defeat to Tipperary in the Munster final.
Cunningham revealed that he had read some of the text messages and said: "They wouldn't be good Waterford GAA supporters anyway. I totally back Davy Fitzgerald and his back-room team. And the players were 100pc behind him."
Meanwhile, Waterford expect Tony Browne and Michael 'Brick' Walsh to be fit for the semi-final.
Both players picked up hamstring injuries against Galway last Sunday, while Browne also took a blow to the ribs.
Browne (38) travelled to Wexford yesterday for cryotherapy recovery treatment and indicated last night that he will be fit to face the Cats.