Pauric Fanning: 'We’re looking forward to competitive action again'
By Cian O'Connell
New Waterford manager Pauric Fanning is looking forward to carrying out some experiments in the upcoming Co-op Superstores Munster Senior Hurling League.
Waterford face Cork in Mallow on January 2 before hosting Clare four days later at Fraher Field in Dungarvan.
"As a new management team we’re going to be looking at the lads and working out fellas’ strengths and weaknesses, even looking at how they approach individual games," Fanning says. "That all gives you a better insight into how they deal with competitive matches.
"In that sense it comes at a good time of the year as well because it leads you into the National League, you’re getting two games and possibly a final, that works out well also.
"It fits into our schedule well and we’re looking forward to it. Any game we go out to play in, we want to do well and to see if the things we’re working on in training are working in games, are starting to come off."
Fanning hopes that Waterford can acquire a winning habit. "We also 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 doesn’t work out, but we want to be competitive in every game," Fanning states.
"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."
Fanning confirmed that Tom Devine is unlikely to be available for Waterford in 2019, while the Ballygunner contingent will be on club duty for the early stages of the League.
"There are two sides to that - obviously early on in the League campaign next year we’ll be without the Ballygunner lads, and they’ll be a loss to us, there are some very good players involved with them," Fanning admits.
"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.
"That gives other lads a chance to step up to the plate, to try to grab a spot, and that’ll be true of the Munster league and the early part of the National League. Players should see it as an opportunity in that sense."
In 2018 Limerick integrated the Na Piarsaigh contingent back into the panel successfully and Fanning is eager to adopt a similar approach.
"We’d be hoping it’ll work out in a similar way, and when they (Ballygunner players) fall back in with us it’ll add enormously to the depth of our panel," Fanning adds.
"If we can find one or two players in the League as well that’ll add to the competition for places. Obviously we don’t know how things will pan out, but the response has been very positive and we’re looking forward to competitive action again."