Thursday 22 March 2018

Two massive Munster games in 72 hours took its toll

Clare manager Donal Moloney
Clare manager Donal Moloney Newsdesk Newsdesk

I was honoured when Derek Lyons and Tony Browne asked me to join the Waterford U21 backroom team this year but it was a huge disappointment to lose last week's Munster semi-final to Clare.

Croke Park beat the drum about player welfare, but it was a massive ask for our senior panellists to pick themselves up from a Munster final defeat and go again just 72 hours later in the U21 grade.

Even an extra day's grace would have helped our cause.

We had a three-hour bus journey to Ennis to take on a fresh, hungry Clare team under the guidance of the astute Donal Moloney.

We lost out in the Cusack Park cauldron and unfortunately there is no second chance for us this year.

Who would have thought that the two counties that contested the senior provincial final, Waterford and Tipp, would see their U21 teams crash out?

Maybe the fact that Limerick and Clare U21s had a bit more time to train together was a factor.

I'd also urge Waterford to take a look at the Clare model that has been so successful in this grade in recent years.

We have development groups from U14 through to minor, but then the system grinds to a halt.

From what I can gather, Clare and Limerick continue to work with their players at U19 but our lads are either parachuted into the senior squad, or deemed not good enough and drift away from between the ages of 18 and 21.

Of course, only the very best will make it but this talent drain is an issue that needs to be addressed.

We tried to do things a little differently this year, organising challenge matches against local senior clubs, when the norm previously had been to meet up at the start of May and go from there.

It was good experience for our lads and we tried to keep a big squad together throughout the campaign.

Some of our fringe players can now target this grade next year, but we must not forget the guys who slip through the net either.

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