| 11.9°C Dublin

Déise won't have to scale heights to lower Banner

WATERFORD'S ill-judged, now reversed decision to grant Cork home advantage for a potential Munster final should have at least served to heighten the sense in Clare that the Déise are looking beyond this fixture.

They wouldn't admit it -- certainly not Davy Fitzgerald anyway -- but, aside from Limerick, Clare are seen as the soft touch in Munster hurling this summer.

Last year's Mike McNamara debacle saw to that. The decision of Tony Griffin and Niall Gilligan not to hurl with the county, Gerry O'Grady's forced withdrawal through injury and the defections of both Barry Ryan and David Nugent all added to it, while their inability to climb out of the murky depths of Division 2 made absolutely sure of it.

Duly, there is a lack of big experience to guide the All-Ireland under-21 posse of last year into the senior ranks.


Darach Honan is, undoubtedly, the best placed of these to make an immediate impact but he has been carrying a knock of late and it unlikely to be at his optimum on Monday.

John Conlon and Cormac O'Donovan look the part too, but a straight comparison between the respective squads reveals a massive shortfall in experience for the Banner.

Waterford have no such problems in that department and the late return to the county scene for Dan Shanahan, Ken McGrath, Seamus Prendergast and Tony Browne could yet prove a wise move by Fitzgerald. But none will be at full match sharpness for Monday.

There is enough attacking talent in Eoin Kelly, John Mullane, Stephen Molumphy and Kevin Moran to take a win from Thurles, though, and there is enough ability in any XV Fitzgerald might field against Clare to ease into a Munster final.

Then, and only then, will Waterford need to be at their peak and recent history of their meetings with Cork has thought everyone to expect the unexpected.

That, however, is two stops down the road, but they should make a good start along the way at Semple Stadium.

ODDS: Waterford 2/7, Draw 11/1, Clare 3/1

VERDICT: Waterford