Waterford will face Tipperary in this year’s Munster u21 hurling championship tonight at Walsh Park. Here, we take a look at the six players to keep an eye on.
Waterford, backboned by a host of senior stars, go in to this evening’s tie as firm favourites to claim a first u21 title for the county in 21 years.
Conor Gleeson (Waterford)
Gleeson will line out at full-back for the Déise u21’s tonight, having played a starring role in Waterford’s senior triumph over Wexford at the weekend. Gleeson was introduced as an early first-half substitute for the injured Darragh Fives. The Fourmilewater man slotted straight in to the corner-back slot and look accomplished and tidy, in a display where he didn’t put a foot wrong.
Stephen Bennett (Waterford)
Bennett was one of the stars of Waterford’s national league triumph last spring. However, injuries have curtailed his progress and development. Despite suffering a frustrating 2015 season, the Ballysaggart man now looks to be back to his best. The corner-forward shot a superb 2-3 in their semi-final win over Clare and will look to continue his goalscoring form tonight.
Colm Roche (Waterford)
Roche is a very accomplished hurler in the engine room for the Déise. The All-Ireland minor medal winner has the skillset and physical attributes to become a star at senior level in the future. He is yet to make his senior championship debut but another impressive performance tonight will force Derek McGrath to consider bringing Roche on in a senior championship encounter.
Ronan Maher (Tipperary)
Maher has been a regular in the Tipp senior side since the 2014 season and the Thurles Sarsfields man is expected to dominate proceedings tonight from centre-back. Younger brother of Pádraic, Ronan will captain the Tipperary team and will look to bring his senior experience to the table in what is expected to be a tough battle for the Tipperary men.
Josh Keane (Tipperary)
Tipp’s dual prowess has been one of the stories of the summer and Keane has been at the heart of all things good for the senior football side. The Golden-Kilfeacle man will be on free-taking duty tonight for the u21 hurlers as he hopes to start what could be a memorable week on a good note. Keane will play in Croke Park on Sunday in Tipp’s first ever football quarter-final.
Tom Fox (Tipperary)
The Tipperary full-back was a rock at the heart of the Tipperary defence as they claimed victory over Limerick in the semi-final. The former minor captain was corner-back on last year’s u21 side but has graduated to a more central role this year. The Éire-Óg Anacarthy man will be tasked with trying to keep Shane Bennett quiet tonight.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena