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Austin Gleeson fully fit for Munster final but Darragh Fives remains a major doubt

Waterford manager Derek McGrath is likely to have a clearer indication of the defender’s fitness this weekend.

Darragh Fives is struggling to be fit in time for Waterford's Munster senior hurling final meeting with Tipperary.
Darragh Fives is struggling to be fit in time for Waterford's Munster senior hurling final meeting with Tipperary.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

WATERFORD SENIOR HURLING manager Derek McGrath is still no closer to knowing if he’ll have Darragh Fives available for Sunday week’s Munster final against Tipperary.

Fives — who was one of The Sunday Game’s man-of-the-match nominees from the Deise’s semi-final victory against Clare — is doubtful for the 10 July showdown due to a torn quad muscle, with McGrath rating his chances of being fit for the game at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick as 50/50 when asked last week.

Speaking last night, McGrath explained that the 24-year-old Tourin/Ballinwillin defender did some light running last weekend but he’s by no means ready to go just yet.

“He did a bit of running in the interim, over the weekend. Only half pace or three-quarter pace. He hasn’t sprinted yet,” said McGrath.

We played a bit of a mixed match among ourselves on Sunday morning and he took no part in that. We’re playing our own U21s [tonight]. We’re training Friday night and Saturday so we’re hoping that Saturday he’ll test it out and see how it goes.”

Waterford will remain in the All-Ireland hunt regardless of the outcome of their game against Tipperary, with a quarter-final awaiting them instead of a semi-final should they come up short.

When asked if that safety net would deter him from taking a risk by including Fives in his team, McGrath admitted that the situation is complicated.

“Probably a sensible manager should do that, I suppose. I think the Munster Championship is important — that we try and get our best team on the field. He’s part of that. I’m not really making much sense in that argument but we should go all out,” said the Waterford boss.

Derek McGrath Derek McGrath is keeping a close eye on the fitness of Darragh Fives. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“If he’s right, he’s right, obviously. If he’s not, if we’re told by Conor and the lads in terms of the physio that he can’t play on the Friday, he won’t play any part but we’d be very anxious to ensure that he plays.

“But it’s a good question, it’s a good point. But for me, we like to have our best team on the field if we could against Tipperary. I think we need everyone to be competitive.”

There had also been some concern in Waterford over the availability of Austin Gleeson, among others, after he took a knock to his knee in a club game, but McGrath says the Mount Sion star has experienced no difficulty as a result.

McGrath: “He’s fine, thank God. Stephen Bennett is fine. Eddie Barrett has been a long-term casualty, probably won’t be in the 26. But other than that we’re clear, bar Darragh who’s the only doubt.

“Austin recovered perfectly. He only had a bit of bruising around the knee so he’s perfect.”

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