by Daragh Small
Waterford hurling manager Paraic Fanning believes the Déise will play at home in the Munster championship next year.
Waterford county board have delayed the redevelopment of Walsh Park in an attempt to have two Munster SHC matches played there in 2019.
Fanning, who previously coached Waterford and Wexford alongside manager Davy Fitzgerald, took over as manager of his native county from Derek McGrath in September.
And he is still very hopeful that Waterford will play their games against Clare and Limerick in the county, after a year where their Munster SHC home fixtures took place at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick and Semple Stadium in Thurles.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re still looking at playing the games at home. That would be my view, and I think the view of all of us, that the games should be played in Waterford,” said Fanning.
“I know there’s a process we have to go through in relation to that, but we’ll see how that plays out.
“Our intention and our hope is that these games would still go ahead in Waterford, as I’ve said before either in Waterford city or elsewhere in the county.”
Fanning was speaking at the launch of the Munster Senior Hurling League at the Co-Op Superstore in Raheen, Co Limerick.
The Mount Sion clubman has never managed a team at senior inter-county level and could be without his Ballygunnar contingent for the start of 2019 ahead of their All-Ireland club semi-final against Ballyhale Shamrocks.
“We’re all trying to learn while also keeping our cards close to our chests, it’s tricky,” said Fanning.
“But everyone, managers and players, wants to get the competitive juices flowing, and I think the lads will look forward to a couple of competitive game after Christmas rather than the usual winter slog.
“We have our own targets we’re building towards for later in the year, so it’s not the end of the world if this competition (Munster league) doesn’t work out, but we want to be competitive in every game.
“You’d see with Kilkenny over the years how seriously they treat the Walsh Cup, and when I was involved with Waterford last in 2010 and we won the Munster championship, we won the then-Waterford Crystal league earlier that year. You can’t underestimate the momentum you get from winning.
“Early on in the league campaign we’ll be without the Ballygunner lads, and they’ll be a loss to us, there are some very good players involved with them.
“But on the other hand, obviously it’s fantastic for Waterford and for the club themselves that they’re heading into an All-Ireland semi-final now.
“We would of course be hugely supportive of them and of them doing well in the competition, and we’ve already told the Waterford panellists with Ballygunner that we don’t expect to see them until the All-Ireland club campaign is finished.
“And we’d be hoping that won’t be until it finishes on St Patrick’s Day.”