Donal Moloney looking forward to Walsh Park test
By Cian O’Connell
Following the promise demonstrated in the 2018 Clare joint manager Donal Moloney remains encouraged.
Saturday’s Walsh Park Allianz Hurling League Quarter-Final encounter against Waterford offers another game and opportunity ahead of the May 12 Munster Championship opener at the same venue.
Moloney, though, isn’t overly concerned about the fact that Clare will get a run out ahead of the eagerly anticipated summer date.
“I think most players - hurling is a small fraternity - from underage right the way through, most of these players know every blade of grass in every one of the competitive county home pitches,” Moloney says.
“So I don't think that is a big thing for players at this level at this point. What I will say is that it is a good challenge to go to Walsh Park to take them on.
“They performed very impressively last Sunday against Galway coming from such a significant deficit, turning them over in the last few minutes. It was a really, really impressive performance from Waterford.
“We are looking forward to it, the quarter finals have thrown up interesting draws with the home and away arrangement. We are looking forward to what will be an interesting challenge in Walsh Park in Waterford.”
The fact that a place in the knockout stages was secured brought a sense of satisfaction according to Moloney.
“We have been quite happy with it, we wanted to qualify for the knockout stages,” Moloney admits. “We have done so and we have performed reasonably well at times. We would be maybe lacking consistency at other times. I think all teams have been through periods of that.”
Encouragement has also been taken from how players such as Diarmuid Ryan and Shane Golden have fared during the spring.
“I think with our Championship panel that we had good depth to that last year,” Moloney states. “Every team is trying to find a few additional guys. That is a consistent objective for every team every season, to try to bring through new players.
“Whether they are new guys on the panel or whether they are actually guys that have been around for a while and had their effectiveness curtailed by injury or whatever.
“From that point of view a lot of lads have put their hand up which makes it very competitive and also helps us to address some of the areas where we have gaps too.”
Due to a new League format being implemented in 2020 there will be no relegation from Division 1A and Moloney feels that has impacted how teams have approached matches. “I would have probably thought that up until the last two rounds that it hadn't, but I think it is clear now that it has,” Moloney remarks.
“Cork's performance against Tipp didn't reflect reality so therefore from my perspective it has in the last couple of rounds diluted it somewhat. Some people achieved their objectives early on and maybe they plateaued a little bit after that.”
How important is it for Clare to get some more competitive fixtures before the cut and thrust of Munster fare? “We wouldn't really see it as that critical,” Moloney replies.
“Looking at the National League on its own merits we would like to continue to get more games in it. Some teams are very competitive and you will find that obviously as you get into the latter stages that the teams most serious about it are still involved.
“So I think that provides good competition and it is way better than challenge games. The National League in its own right is a prestigious competition going a long way back. I think it is really, really important that it is always treated with respect by all counties.”