Pauric Mahony concerned Waterford’s ‘home’ fixtures may be moved
Redevelopment work in Walsh Park unlikely to be completed in time for championship
Walsh Park: Waterford’s ground is facing redevelopment and it’s unclear whether it will host Munster championship games next summer. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho
Waterford’s Pauric Mahony admits it will be tough if the county are forced to play four away fixtures in next summer’s Munster championship.
The current capacity of Walsh Park is only 11,500, with redevelopment work on the Waterford city venue set to begin next year and unlikely to be completed before the start of the 2018 Munster campaign.
The Deise’s home ground has not hosted a major provincial game since 1996 mainly because of its capacity shortcomings, but after the structural changes to the 2018 hurling championship, Waterford have been fixed to host two games in next summer’s provincial round-robin. They are against Cork and Tipperary.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with Walsh Park, your guess is as good as mine,” explained Mahony, talking at the PwC sponsored All Star tour in Singapore.
While the prospect of home fixtures is an exciting one, Mahony remains very unsure as to whether plans to increase the capacity to 16,000 will be carried out in time to host those two fixtures. If the work is not completer it could result in their home games being played outside of the county or even the province, with Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park mooted as a possible venue.
“Playing four games away would be tough,” said O’Mahony, whose Waterford team have lost two of the last three Munster finals and not won the title since 2010.
“Playing in your own patch is definitely an advantage. We’ll see what happens. For ourselves to get championship matches in our home patch is nice. The atmosphere in Walsh Park will be pretty amazing I’m sure. It will be a special place to be.”
Next year’s provincial championship will see each team play at least four matches, which means more games and before that an earlier preseason for an earlier league.
“It’s hard to know how it’ll go and we won’t know until the end of 2018. There’s going to be a lot of games but it’s hard to know because we haven’t seen it in operation yet. At the end of the day you want to be playing games and that’s what we’ll be doing.
“Derek [McGrath]is letting us recharge the batteries now. It’s a good complaint when the year has gone on for so long – it would have been nice to look back with the club [title] and All-Ireland [title]. Two losses in finals is tough to take but that’s life, you just have to get on with it and try to do better next time.
“But you have to be that bit more conscious of what you do over the next six weeks or so in the off season because we are back at the end of January playing Wexford in the league. And the championship is a couple of weeks earlier too. So you have to mind yourself, and every player is doing that nowadays. There’s no real time to take the foot off the gas anymore.”