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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 2 March 2021

The Waterford teenage star aiming to gun down Kerry's Stacks in Munster final

‘Dangerous’ Conor Gleeson can help the Nire unlock the Kerry kingpins.

Gleeson scored 1-2 against Cratloe earlier this month.
Gleeson scored 1-2 against Cratloe earlier this month.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

THE SECRET IS out. Conor Gleeson will be a marked man on Sunday.

The dual minor star has emerged as one of The Nire’s most dangerous threats this season.

Now the Waterford champions are hoping that he can repeat the trick once again and lead them to a historic Munster football title.

The teen — who was centre-back for the Déise’s minor hurlers this year — is a lethal forward with the big ball.

He led the way in the county final against Stradbally, kicking 0-5 from play in a man-of-the-match performance to clinch the Fourmilewater club’s first county crown since 2008.

Graduating to provincial level didn’t faze him either. His first-half goal against Ballylanders set the tone for what turned out to be a comfortable quarter-final win.

Gleeson finished with 1-2 that day, then matched that total against the dual stars of Cratloe in the semis.

“He’s got great balance, pace and application,” manager Benji Whelan said this week.

He’s a fantastic head on his shoulders for just a kid, and a real leader in the dressing room.

Fewer and fewer players are juggling the demands of two codes these days and when the time comes for Gleeson to make his decision, Whelan expects it to be football’s loss.

“He’s an example of someone that’s a better footballer than hurler, although he’s a very, very good hurler, playing centre-back too, when he’s arguably more potent as a forward.

“He’s a loss to football if he goes to hurling, but he’s fantastic doing what he’s doing.”

There are eight survivors from The Nire’s last Munster final, a three-point defeat against Dr Crokes, but it is a man who was still in primary school in 2006 that will hold the key this weekend.

“He got a goal against Ballylanders, and Cratloe, so he’s dangerous,” Whelan added.

“I suppose we’re very conscious that if he’s man-marked, or double-marked, that will open space, and we’ve got other good guys inside who might exploit that.”

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Niall Kelly

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