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Dublin: 5°C Monday 8 March 2021

6 key players in the Cork and Waterford Munster U21 hurling battle

The sides clash in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm at the quarter-final stage tomorrow night.

1. Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig – Cork)

He’s only just out of the minor ranks but Collins has already accumulated plenty inter-county experience. A minor goalkeeper for Cork in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Collins was also between the posts for the county U21 side that were heavily defeated in last year’s Munster hurling final by a supremely talented Clare team.

Collins – whose brother Mattie has won two Dublin senior hurling medals in goal for Kilmacud Crokes in recent years – is a versatile player who hurls in attack for his club.

But the goalkeeping understudy to Cork senior Anthony Nash will be in the number one spot for the U21 outfit.

Patrick Collins Cork's Patrick Collins Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

2. Tadhg De Búrca (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg – Waterford)

De Búrca was centre-back on the Dungarvan Colleges team that won the Croke Cup in 2013 in Semple Stadium and two years on, he’s been a key defensive component for the Waterford seniors that’s claimed two significant recent wins at the Thurles venue.

Tomorrow, De Búrca will be spearheading the U21′s defensive effort and his role at the back in Derek McGrath’s senior setup has showcased his game intelligence and defensive resilience.

Tadhg de Burca under pressure Pa Cronin, Cormac Murphy and Aidan Walsh Tadhg De Búrca in action for Waterford against Cork in the recent Munster semi-final. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. Anthony Spillane (Castlelyons – Cork)

One of the few survivors from last year’s Cork U21 side, Spillane’s threat will be known by Waterford. He fired 2-1 when the counties met in last year’s Munster semi-final in this grade in Walsh Park.

Spillane, whose brother Colm has been part of the Cork senior setup in recent years, is a tricky corner-forward. He’s been involved in JBM’s senior squad  to date in 2015 and will likely be a go-to guy in attack for the U21 team.

Anthony Spillane and Eoin Moore Anthony Spillane in action for Cork against Wexford in the league earlier this year. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

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4. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion – Waterford)

Gleeson has been selected at midfield for the U21′s and that positioning offers further proof of how comfortable he is being located around the pitch. Centre-back on the triumphant minor side two years ago, the Mount Sion has slotted in to a half-back role for the senior side this year as well.

In his debut senior campaign in 2014, Gleeson fitted in at wing-forward and hit a wondrous goal against Cork in the drawn Munster quarter-final. Stifling his influence around the middle will be crucial from Cork’s perspective tomorrow.

Austin Gleeson Waterford's Austin Gleeson Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

5. Alan Dennehy (Charleville – Cork)

A substitute on the Cork team that were crushed in last July’s Munster U21 final, Dennehy has stepped up to the starting fifteen this season to be selected at full-back.

Dennehy won an All-Ireland intermediate medal with Cork last August and has also caught the eye with the CIT Fitzgibbon Cup team this spring. He’ll be vital to the U21 side’s hopes here.

Austin Gleeso scores his side's first goal Alan Dennehy (no. 3) in action for Cork IT in the Ftizgibbon Cup semi-final against Waterford IT. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

6. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan – Waterford)

Curran helped apply the finishing touches to Waterford’s recent Munster senior semi-final success against Cork, raising a white flag on his championship debut at that level.

He’s a brilliant attacking talent, showcasing his capabilities in 2013 when he hit 0-9 in Dungarvan Colleges Croke Cup victory and striking 1-7 in Waterford’s All-Ireland minor final win.

Drafted into the senior setup since the league final, the UCC student will be an attacking figurehead for the U21 side.

Patrick Curran Waterford's Patrick Curran Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

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Fintan O'Toole

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