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'They just seem to be our kind of bogey team' - Waterford's U21 suffering against Clare

Austin Gleeson knows all about disappointments against the Banner.

Austin Gleeson tries for goal from a 20-yard free against Clare in last year's U21 match.
Austin Gleeson tries for goal from a 20-yard free against Clare in last year's U21 match.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WHEN WATERFORD LOST last month’s hurling league final replay, the disappointment was suffered at the hands of a familiar foe.

The Waterford players saw their dreams of retaining the league crown dashed by the Banner but for plenty of them, it was the manifestation at senior level of a trend they’d grown accustomed to at U21 level.

Munster U21

  • 2012: Semi-final – Clare 2-22 Waterford 0-9
  • 2013: Semi-final – Clare 2-15 Waterford 0-17
  • 2015: Semi-final – Clare 0-23 Waterford 1-18

Aside from those U21 setbacks, a bunch of the current Waterford players had also lost out at minor level in decisive games against Clare.

Munster Minor

  • 2010: Final – Clare 1-16 Waterford 1-11
  • 2011: Final – Clare 1-20 Waterford 3-9

Granted Waterford have won Munster minor hurling ties against Clare in the first round in 2010 and 2012, and in a playoff in 2013.

But Austin Gleeson is one of those who has stored up enough underage hurling hurt at the hands of the Banner. He recalls the 2013 U21 defeat against a star-studded Clare outfit.

“The first year I was on an U21 panel we played them at Walsh Park and Tony Kelly actually went off (injured).

“Then we got a lad sent off and Seadna Morey came on and got a goal and they kind of just took off from that and we got beat by two points.

“We kinda had them there pinned and we could have beat them that day.”

Tempers flare durning the first half Waterford and Clare players in action in the Bord Gáis Energy 2013 Munster U21 semi-final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Last summer’s loss in Cusack Park was more gut-wrenching for Waterford. This time they had the array of riches with seven of their players having lined out at some stage in the Munster senior final the previous Sunday.

“Definitely I’d say that was probably the biggest disappointment of last year,” agrees Gleeson.

“It was hard to get up for it a lot because we had lost the Munster final four days before. The calibre of players we had and what we could have done it if we wanted to, but if we’d put our heads to it.

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“It was very hard to take that night. Clare did their homework. They were very good that night.

“They kept the ball away from Tadhg (De Búrca). They played Colin (Dunford) out of the game. We just didn’t have the answers to them basically. They stepped up and performed.

“Hopefully we can change that (U21) result around this year when we are playing them in July.”

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They have the chance to avenge their losing streak on Sunday.

“The 5th of June is a massive game,” admits Gleeson.

“It was the exact same as last year. It’s a Munster semi-final so if you win you’re in an (All-Ireland) quarter-final regardless of what happens in a Munster final I suppose.

“It’s going to be hopefully a humdinger of a game and hopefully we come out the right side of it but we know we’ve our hands full.

“With the lads they have coming back in to the game as well, it’s going to be a massive game for us.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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