Clare are sweating on the fitness of a number of key players ahead of Saturday’s National Hurling League quarter-final against Waterford this Saturday.
John Conlon, Oisín O’Brien, Ian Galvin, Colm Galvin and Podge Collins are all carrying knocks with management confirming a late call will be made on their participation ahead of the trip to Walsh Park to take on the Deise.
For one of the two teams, it will be their last game before meeting the same opponent in the same venue for the opening round of the Munster championship on May 12, with the provincial body confirming the Waterford city venue will host both home ties for Padraic Fanning’s outfit.
Joint Clare manager Donal Moloney is not surprised that Waterford opted to play Saturday’s game there rather than Dungarvan, with some feeling it will be a good dry run for the Banner ahead of that championship showdown.
“Much like Ennis, Walsh Park is their home and I think they would probably want to play as many games there as possible before the championship. They’ve put huge effort into making sure it passes as a championship venue so it doesn’t surprise me really” he said.
Clare’s final round with Limerick was the only Division 1A game that went ahead a fortnight ago with weather conditions forcing a delay in the rest of that weekend’s ties. That had the knock-on effect of delaying the knock-out stages by a week, with Waterford in action against Galway last Sunday in their rescheduled fixture. Moloney admits having that break was a welcome one for Clare as they saw the treatment room become busier.
He said: “We have been training since the Limerick game but we have a lot of injuries from that game or subsequent to it. We have had a good few lads out of action since then so it will be late in the week when we assess how they are ahead of the game with Waterford. John Conlon is still out but we now have injuries too to Colm Galvin, Oisin O’Brien, Podge Collins and Ian Galvin so we have to contend with that now”.
With their championship encounter creeping ever closer, it remains to be seen if either side will hold something in reserve on Saturday afternoon with one eye towards that clash in May. Moloney doesn’t feel that will be the case.
“I don’t think there will be any element of shadow boxing in this one. Teams want to perform based on where they are at this time of the year in terms of their preparations and they want to go out and perform as best they can. We are no different to that and neither are Waterford. It was very clear from last weekend’s game and having been in Walsh Park watching them and listening to their interviews after about how important the venue is to them. Even though that game against Galway was effectively a dead rubber in that it was only a game for final group placings as much as anything else, they still went at them with a huge level of enthusiasm, particularly in the second-half and that was well noted” he said.
Should Clare see their National League campaign come to an end on Saturday, it will mean the squad will have no more competitive action until the clash with Waterford in May, while the club month of April will also come into the reckoning with Clare Cup games down for decision in which county players are expected to be involved. Moloney stated that everyone is the squad wants to keep their run going for as long as they can.
“With that club month, it varies according to county. Some places play club championships and others run off a few rounds of their leagues. Leaving that aside, the National League is over by the end of March and it is a hugely important competition and we very much respect that. We want to use it to test where we are at from a performance point of view. The challenge match circuit is something that doesn’t bring a huge amount of value unless you play against very select teams, so using the National League to test where you are at and test the strength of your squad is something that is very important. We wanted to do well in the Munster League and we won that, and we wanted to qualify for the league knock-out stages and we have done that now. Our goal now is to perform through the concluding stages of the competition and we will be setting our stall out accordingly” he concluded.
Clare v Waterford gets underway in Walsh Park Waterford on Saturday at 3pm.