Not only was this game a farce, from a Waterford point of view, but it is beginning to look as though our new selectors are a farce too. If they weren’t bothered about winning this game (and that’s the way it looked) they could have told us in advance, so that the thousand or so people who turned up could have saved themselves the €10 admission fee and cost of getting to the game.
There has been no apparent sense of purpose in the selection of teams in the Crystal Cup and pre-season challenges. There has been no systematic rotation of players so that all available players on the panel could get a decent chance in their best positions. Instead, some established players have played in all the games, while some squad members have hardly figured at all.
Several players are on the panel and getting games although it should be obvious by now that they are not fit for championship hurling. Michael Ryan has been criticised for having a number of Fourmilewater players on the panel, although we have seen very little of them. Yet it seems to me that there are a lot of Mount Sion and De La Salle players in the squad who have no business being there.
What has Eoin McGrath done to deserve a place on the panel, never mind on the team? What particular function is he supposed to perform? He played the entire game today, first at corner forward, then at midfield, then at left half forward – all to no effect, while young players with potential were left on the sideline.
From what I have seen, Dean Twomey is nowhere near the level required in terms of technique or ball control. He was eventually replaced by another De La Salle player, Paudie Nevin, who in my view is not up to intercounty standard either.
I have nothing against Mount Sion or De La Salle, but there are much better players than those mentioned who are not getting a look in. Clare had four of last year’s minor team playing today, and all played well. Waterford have had three good minor teams in the last three years, yet only one player from these teams (Martin O’Neill) played today. Why, when the team was doing so badly today, were only two substitutes used (and even then, one was an enforced substitution) while Clare used four substitutes?
Some of the tactics employed today defied comprehension. Waterford used a three-man midfield in the second half, even though they were chasing the game. This left them with a two-man full forward line of Shane Walsh and Martin O’Neill, neither of whom is blessed with pace. They were being marked by three pacy defenders, so predictably most of the ball that came in came straight back out again.
Waterford eventually reverted to an orthodox forward layout with Seamus Prendergast moving to full forward and, hey presto, they scored three goals and brought two excellent saves from the Clare goalie. And this without any presence on the left wing, where the Clare right half back was cleaning up on Eoin McGrath. At least Maurice Shanahan was winning loads of ball on the other wing, and he worked his socks off, even though his use of the ball wasn’t the most productive.
A couple of statistics from the game. Waterford got two points from play (both by Shane Walsh); Clare got thirteen. Three Waterford players scored from play (Martin O’Neill and Seamus Prendergast got two goals each); the corresponding figure for Clare was ten.
Tony Kelly came on for Clare wearing No, 25 and scored a peach of a long range point.
Finally, congratulations to Dungarvan CBS, who beat Clonmel CBS in the semi-final of the Munster Colleges Senior B competition on Saturday, despite being short a lot of players due to injuries and suspensions.
Update: My apologies, I was wrongly informed. The Kelly who came on for Clare yesterday was Patrick, not Tony. My information now is that Tony, who was the star of the Clare minor hurlers over the last two years, was invited onto the senior panel but opted to return to school to repeat the Leaving Cert. This means that Clare only had three of last year’s minors on the team yesterday.