Tuesday 21 January 2020

Lack of home comforts will not unsettle Déise - Hartley

Former Waterford hurling captain Fergal Hartley. Photo: Mark Condren
Former Waterford hurling captain Fergal Hartley. Photo: Mark Condren
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Having no home games in the Munster Championship will only be a disadvantage to Waterford hurlers if they allow it, according to former Déise star Fergal Hartley.

With Walsh Park unable to accommodate big championship crowds, Waterford's two allocated 'home' games against Tipperary and Cork will be played at neutral venues. It leaves the Déise as the only county in the ten-strong All-Ireland race unable to avail of home advantage.

"It's not ideal but it's the way things are. I'm sure Derek (McGrath) and the lads will make nothing of it. It's all psychological anyway. It's how you play, not where you play that decides games," said Hartley.

Waterford begin their 'round robin' series against Clare in Ennis in May 27 and will also be away to Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds on June 10. The Gaelic Grounds will also host their clash with Tipperary on June 3, while Semple Stadium will be the venue for their meeting with Cork on June 17.

Under the new championship arrangements in the Leinster and Munster, counties other than Waterford have two 'home' and two 'away' games.

"In theory, two home games is an advantage but Waterford don't have them so the lads just have to get on with it. Derek will have dealt with that side of things. The squad have plenty experience playing all over the country so they will be well able to handle it.

"It's tough on the supporters though. Waterford's four games are on successive weekends - it's asking a lot of supporters to travel to them all, especially since they have to go to Limerick and Ennis," said Hartley. Like the rest of the hurling world, he is intrigued by the possibilities arising from the Munster 'round robin' involving five counties who are very closely matched.

"There isn't a single game where you could predict the outcome with any certainty - it's that tight. There will be a lot of twists and turns over the five weekends.

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" I wouldn't be surprised if all the counties are still in contention for a top three finish heading into the last round of games. It's going to be tough on the two that lose out in the end. It's very hard to know who they will be," he said.

Munster SHC Round Robin 2018

May 20: Cork v Clare, Páirc Uí Chaoimh; Limerick v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds.

May 27: Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium; Clare v Waterford, Ennis.

June 2: Cork v Limerick, Páirc Uí Chaoimh;

June 3: Waterford v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds.

June 10: Limerick v Waterford, Gaelic Grounds; Tipperary v Clare, Semple Stadium.

June 17: Clare v Limerick, Ennis; Waterford v Cork, Semple Stadium.

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