Thursday 14 December 2017

Shanahan wary of Cats' spine as skipper Moran wins fitness race

Waterford captain Kevin Moran. Photo: Sportsfile
Waterford captain Kevin Moran. Photo: Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Captain Kevin Moran will be fit for Waterford's crunch All-Ireland SHC round 2 qualifier clash with Kilkenny at Semple Stadium on Saturday.

Moran came off 18 minutes from the end of last Saturday's huge victory over Offaly in Tullamore with an ankle problem - but the Waterford management have allayed fears that he could miss the do-or-die showdown with the Cats.

Waterford trained last night and selector Dan Shanahan confirmed that the De La Salle clubman is "good to go."

Shanahan also expressed satisfaction with a clean bill of health for Waterford, as Darragh Fives has now fully recovered from a long-standing quad problem, featuring off the bench against Cork in the Munster semi-final defeat before getting 70 minutes under his belt last weekend.

Shanahan said last night: "It's massive for us because Darragh would be a main man.

"He's back to 100 per cent and we'll take it easy on Darragh tonight and have him good for Thursday and Saturday.

"It's a quick turn-around after playing Offaly but Kilkenny are in the same boat.

"Kevin might miss training tonight but he's good to go," he added.

"He's captain of the team and a big leader. Kilkenny are big, physical men and we need all the big men that we have.

"They're going to be aggressive, they're big and strong, and we have to match that to beat Kilkenny."

Shanahan believes that Kilkenny may be more battle-hardened ahead of the Thurles collision, as they came through a tougher qualifier last weekend.

Brian Cody's men dug deep to get past Limerick by three points at Nowlan Park, as Waterford hammered Offaly by 24.

Shanahan said: "With respect to Offaly, Kilkenny had a tougher game than we had, and that will stand to them.

"But we haven't beaten Kilkenny in the championship since 1959 - it's hard to believe when you think about it.

"They're favourites for a reason and we know how good they are.

"They have forwards that could get on any county team in Ireland and look at their spine - Eoin Murphy in goal, Pádraig Walsh full-back, Cillian Buckley centre-back, Michael Fennelly midfield, Richie Hogan centre-forward and Colin Fennelly full-forward. Good teams have good men up the middle."

Waterford were left heartbroken by Kilkenny at Semple Stadium last August, when the Cats won by just two points in a gripping All-Ireland semi-final. And Shanahan reflected: "They always say down here that it was a great game but who won the game?

"To be contenders, you have to beat the big teams."

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