Wednesday 24 October 2018

Venue blow to Déise's championship hopes

With Walsh Park finally ruled out of hosting major championship occasions, Waterford will be forced to play two of their four Munster games in the opposition’s home ground and two at neutral venues. Photo: Sportsfile
With Walsh Park finally ruled out of hosting major championship occasions, Waterford will be forced to play two of their four Munster games in the opposition’s home ground and two at neutral venues. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Waterford's prospects of building on last year's progress in the All-Ireland hurling championship will be severely hit by having no home game in the new-look 'round robin' Munster campaign this summer.

With Walsh Park finally ruled out of hosting major championship occasions, Waterford will be forced to play two of their four Munster games in the opposition's home ground and two at neutral venues.

The other nine contenders for the Liam MacCarthy Cup will all have two home and away games. Waterford were due to host Tipperary on June 3 and Cork two weeks later, with their away games against Clare on May 27 and Limerick on June 10.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh is the obvious option (within Munster) as the neutral venue for Waterford's clash with Tipperary, with Thurles hosting their meeting with Cork.

However, with the Cork City Marathon taking place on June 3, an alternative date or venue may have to be found for the Waterford-Tipperary game. One possibility is to play it on the following day, Bank Holiday Monday.

Nowlan Park, Kilkenny is a convenient venue for Waterford and Tipperary supporters, but it's unlikely that the Munster Council would agree to playing one of their big championship attractions in Leinster.

There are plans for redevelopment at Walsh Park, which is now one of the most dilapidated county grounds in the country but work will not commence until much later in the year, which raises questions as to whether Waterford will be able to host championship games in 2019 either.

The vast majority of Waterford's Munster Championship games have been played at neutral venues for many years, but now they will have to concede home advantage to two opponents as well. It leaves Waterford at a disadvantage compared to their Munster rivals at a time when there is very little between the five competing counties.

And with two counties to drop of the All-Ireland race after the 'round robin' series, it will be a highly pressurised environment right from the start.

Irish Independent

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