Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Waterford U-21 and senior player, Colin Dunford.

Waterford U-21 and senior player, Colin Dunford.

There’s no doubt that the Waterford U-21 team will travel to Leeside tomorrow as red-hot favourites to continue the county’s winning run over the Rebels and in the process record a very rare victory for any away side on Cork soil in championship hurling.
With at least nine of the Déise senior panel expected to start in Pairc Uí Rinn on Wednesday night, many will expect the Waterford men to roll over their Cork opponents, who are nowhere as strong, on paper at least. But the meeting between these two same counties last year, which ended in a comfortable win for an unfancied Cork side, will leave the Waterford players and management in no doubt that these games, especially when there is no back-door at this grade, are not won on paper but on the night, between the white lines and therefore the Decies men will be all out to ensure that a repeat of last year does not happen again, twelve months on and that the momentum in Waterford hurling form the recent NHL and Munster SHC wins over the Rebels can be added to.
Being involved in the Munster senior championship with Waterford, as well as the Under 21 side, Colin Dunford is quick to point out the main difference between the two grades.
“The U-21 championship being a straight knock-out is the big difference, it means you have to perform on the day, which is a main reason why Waterford haven’t won a game in this competition since 2009.”
Considering the success of Déise minor teams and different Harty Cup and All-Ireland winning Colleges teams, is it a suprise to Colin that it has been so long since Waterford have won a game at this level?
“You’d have to say that it is. Last year we had what looked to be a very strong team and we would have loved to have beaten Cork, especially as it was a home game, but it wasn’t to be which makes us even more eager to turn the tide and set the record straight this year and get a win and maybe a bit of a run going.”
The NHL Final and Munster SHC wins over Cork have ensured that Waterford, especially the nine lads from the senior panel, go into Wednesday night’s game in a great place, mentally, but how much store does Colin put on that?
“Without dout there’s a great atmosphere around Waterford hurling at the moment but we need to continue that positive feeling and the next game to do that is on Wednesday night against Cork in Pairc Ui Rinn.”
Despite the seniors enjoying back to back wins over their Cork counterparts in recent times, Colin is in no doubt about the difficulty of the task that faces them on Wednesday night on Leeside.
“Cork are a fantastic team and extremely hard to beat and we know when we turn up in Paric Ui Rinn that they’re going to be a completely different animal but hopefully we’ll be prepared for that and ready from the first whistle. Losing to Cork last year was a massive low for us as a squad. We had a lot of lads on the senior panel and we would have been hoping for a win, so to get beaten by so much was a massive lesson and one that we’ve hopefully learned from.”
What does he think they’ve learned from that game?
“I think we learned that you can’t just show up on the day and expect it to happen for you. You have to put in the work and you have to be prepared to work on the day. We didn’t work hard enough that day as a team but hopefully we can change it up this year.”
It’s probably a good thing then to have Cork first up in this year’s championship after the disappointment of that defeat twelve months ago.
“You could say that but every team you play in Munster is going to be strong, if it’s not Cork then you’ve Tipp, Clare and Limerick so no matter who you play you’re going to have it tough. As I said before, when it’s straight knockout, anything can happen in this championship and any team are capable of beating each other so it’s just so important that you turn up and perform on the day or if you don’t that’s it, your U-21 year will be over so hopefully we can bring a big performance to Cork and make sure that doesn’t happen us this year.”
Many comparisons have been made of late between Waterford hurling at present and Clare over recent years and with Clare’s dominance at this grade over the past number of years, does Colin see anything that they could take from Clare at this grade.
“I suppose the one thing is that they are similar to us in that in recent years they’ve had lots of players involved with both the U-21 and senior squads, so we must try to combine both and gel with the lads who are not on the senior panel as well as they have over the last few years. But just going from training and U-21 challenge games over recent weeks, the lads who are not on the senior panel are pushing the rest of us every bit of the way to get places on this team and that’s a great place to be,” concluded the Colligan man, Colin Dunford.”

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