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Shanahan selection dilemma - Dan on Maurice's impact sub role for Waterford

The Lismore man has impressed off the bench but should he start?

Maurice Shanahan Maurice and Dan Shanahan celebrating July's qualifier win for Waterford. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

BETWEEN 2009 AND 2012, John Mullane’s consistent excellence was recognised with four successive All-Star awards.

Since then Waterford have had two forwards honoured, Maurice Shanahan two seasons ago and Austin Gleeson last year.

Gleeson has been a key element in propelling Waterford towards next Sunday’s All-Ireland decider but Shanahan has had to be content with starting on the bench for the last three games.

2015 was the high-water mark for the Lismore man. He struck 2-38 in four games, assuming free-taking responsibilities after Pauric Mahony was struck down with a severe leg injury.

Maurice Shanahan celebrates with manager Derek McGrath after the game Maurice Shanahan and Derek McGrath after the 2015 quarter-final win over Dublin. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Last summer Shanahan didn’t scale those scoring heights in championship but he still took Clare for 1-2 and bagged 0-2 in a second-half cameo in the replay against Kilkenny.

This season the 27-year-old started against Cork, where he notched 1-1, and Offaly but has been restricted to substitute appearances since.

Waterford’s strategy has involved holding Shanahan in reserve before unleashing him in the second-half where he has made notable scoring impacts, most strikingly with his 1-3 haul in July’s qualifier against Kilkenny.

Maurice Shanahan celebrates after the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

It is a dilemma for the Waterford management whether to start Shanahan from the off or spring him during the action.

With his older brother Dan part of those tasked with selecting the starting fifteen, the problem is all the greater to mull over.

Maurice Shanahan Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Of course it’s tough lads as in, your brother’s not starting, sometimes he is starting,” says Dan.

“It’s tough on everyone. The one thing I want to re-emphasise and the one thing I’ll always say is that because I’m there, I won’t say Maurice Shanahan has to start.

“We look at his form, look at every fella’s form, what way he’s playing, how he’s playing.

“He’s probably known at the moment as the impact sub if I’m being honest with you.

“Does he like it? No, so he doesn’t. We have no team picked for the All-Ireland, will he start? I don’t know yet.”

Dan Shanahan congratulates brother Maurice Shanahan at the end of the game Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Yet the selection issue has never compromised the relationship of the Shanahan brothers.

“It has never affected us,” insists Dan.

“We do very little talking about it at home so we don’t. My mother and father would never ask me.

“Of course it’s tough when you call out the team and he’s not starting but that’s sport. You have to treat everyone the same.

“I treat every person the same in that dressing room. We re a close family anyway, closer than a club team.

“He’s not starting and is finishing the games strong, that’s the way the game has gone now lads.

“It’s tough but he’s getting game time, some lads aren’t getting game time lads.

“Maurice believes in his own ability and I believe in Maurice’s ability, I’ve seen it all year lads when he’s come on.

“Maurice is an absolute class hurler being honest with you. He’s way better than I was, way more skilful than I was.

“Would he want to start in an All-Ireland final? Of course he would. That’s up to our decision.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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