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Selection Box - What decisions face Cork and Waterford in picking their teams for Sunday?

Derek McGrath and Kieran Kingston are putting the finishing touches to their preparations.

pjimage (2) Cork's Kieran Kingston and Waterford's Derek McGrath. Source: INPHO

THE COUNTDOWN IS on to Sunday’s battle for the right to face Galway in September’s All-Ireland senior hurling decider.

But what must Kieran Kingston and Derek McGrath consider before unveiling their starting fifteens?

Cork

Cork have not lacked a settled starting side and a consistency in selection so far this summer. Three Munster championship games, three victories and the same starting side sent into action on each occasion by Kieran Kingston.

Indeed 12 of Cork’s Munster final winning team started back in April for the league quarter-final loss to Limerick. Only Damien Cahalane, Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston did not feature in that defeat in Páirc Uí Rinn. So clearly Cork have developed cohesion throughout the season.

Kingston revealed last week that they had no fresh injury worries. Since the senior decider, Luke Meade (finger injury) and Darragh Fitzgibbon (suspension) have missed U21 outings yet both are available to be pressed into action on Sunday.

In total Kingston has used 21 players in championship fare in the province, albeit Lorcan McLoughlin, Brian Lawton and Dean Brosnan have only made a single appearance and that was in the closing minutes of the Tipperary and Waterford games.

The three mainstays off the bench have been the attacking pair of Luke O’Farrell and Michael Cahalane and midfielder Daniel Kearney. O’Farrell and Cahalane have been introduced in every match, both players inking their names on the score sheet against Tipperary and Waterford, weighing in with a combined haul of 1-3 over the course of two matches.

Michael Cahalane celebrates a late score Michael Cahalane celebrates a late score for Cork against Tipperary. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

An Achilles problem sidelined Kearney for that May battle with the Premier but he’s returned to the reckoning since then.

The evidence points to Cork sticking with their tried and trusted. They have benefited from a familiar strategy, sticking with same starting side, introducing one attacker between the 50th and 60th minutes, before springing a couple of more subs in the finale.

Kingston has the chance to pursue that philosophy again.

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Waterford

The key decision for Derek McGrath revolves around whether Tadhg de Búrca will be at his disposal or not. Currently he will miss the game through suspension with tomorrow’s DRA appearance a last-ditch attempt to clear the Clashmore-Kinsalebeg man before throw-in on Sunday.

The questions that McGrath will have mulled over since de Búrca saw red against Wexford is what his absence would mean in terms of strategy and personnel. It would seem odd if Waterford binned the usage of a sweeper and Darragh Fives would look the best fit to slot in there.

Then the question is who comes into the team. Will they introduce a defender like Stephen Daniels or shift someone like Kevin Moran back while bringing in a recognised forward like Maurice Shanahan or Patrick Curran?

After journeying through the back door, Waterford have played a game more than Cork and have used 23 players. They have handed starting berths to 17 players, the team that began the last day against Wexford along with Stephen Bennett and Maurice Shanahan.

Six other players have been utilised from the bench. Tommy Ryan has come on in every game for Waterford while Brian O’Halloran, Patrick Curran and Colin Dunford have had three substitute outings.  De La Salle defensive duo Daniels and Shane McNulty have both been used once.

Waterford’s subs have injected a scoring drive into their team chipping in with 1-19 to date in this championship. That return was largely based on two performances, 0-8 in their runaway success against Offaly and 1-6 in the madcap extra-time win over Kilkenny.

Brian O'Halloran Brian O'Halloran celebrates the point he scored for Waterford against Wexford. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The intrigue lies in the decisions to be made in attack. Colin Dunford and Maurice Shanahan started in the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final, Stephen Bennett started in the corresponding fixture last year and Patrick Curran saw gametime from the bench. Then there is the claims of Brian O’Halloran, who has sparkled when introduced this summer.

Derek McGrath must decide between impact options from the bench and who may be set to be trusted from the start. The availability of de Búrca could force his hand in that instance.

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