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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020
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Waterford hurling great hoping to see Passage claim senior glory

Ex-Deise defender Sean Cullinane is hoping to witness history on Sunday afternoon in Walsh Park.

Sean Cullinane, ex-Waterford player and selector.
Sean Cullinane, ex-Waterford player and selector.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

SEAN CULLINANE LISTS out the defeats.

The former Waterford defensive stalwart battled manfully in his playing days with his club Passage to land a county senior medal.

But final days brought disappointment.

“Our first was in 1993. There was a downpour that day against Lismore and we lost 0-8 to 0-7. It was a game that got away from us, we missed a load of chances and missed a load of frees.

“The following year we were back in the final against Mount Sion and were six points up at one stage but lost by four. Again we could have won it.

“In 1997 we played Ballygunner. That was another game where we lead in the second-half  but lost out by six points in the end. They were the better team really.”

The Ballygunner loss stung as they are Passage’s near neighbours. The two clubs supply players to the Gaultier football club and Cullinane was involved when they lost Waterford football deciders in 1994 and 1996.

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On Sunday he’ll head to Walsh Park and watch on in the hope that he will see a club team he has an affinity for, triumph in a senior final.

Passage take on Ballygunner in the 2013 offering of the Waterford SHC decider and after a 16 year absence, their presence on a marquee day is a landmark occasion for the east Waterford fishing village.

After that spell in the  90′s when they challenged the elite, Passage slipped back. Relegation to the intermediate grade ensued. They lost the 2005 final but in 2007 they got the job done against Dungarvan, with Cullinane coming on as a substitute in the final act of a storied career.

“In hindsight, I think we benefited from not winning in 2005″, says Cullinane. “The team was very young at that stage and if we’d won, I think we might have come back down soon enough.

“But when we won in 2007, we’d more experience and our players have developed since then. We held on to the senior status and progressed.”

Players

Their cause has been aided by star turns. Eoin Kelly transferred from Mount Sion and leads their attack. Noel Connors came up from the underage ranks.

“Eoin is a great goal threat and he provides vast experience”, says Cullinane. “Hopefully he’ll have a calming influence on the day.

“I remember seeing Noel play an U14 game when he was only 10 years old. He stood out then as one of the best players on the field. Nothing fazes him and he’s a major leader.

“But the other young players have improved as well. Mark Wyse and Killian Fitzgerald have been with Waterford this year, that’s really stood to them.”

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Waterford’s Noel Connors
Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

And on the line Passage are steered by Peter Queally, who is currently in the reckoning to become the next Waterford manager.

“Peter brings great experience”, reckons Queally. “He played at the highest level himself while he has management experience with Ballygunner, Youghal and the Waterford U21′s, and was a Waterford senior selector.

“He’s a different voice and that’s helped the team. Everyone is on a high looking forward to the game. We’re playing our rivals and neighbours in Ballygunner, which makes it special.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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