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28th Aug 2022

Aussie denies that Waterford management timed it wrong this year as Fitzgerald looks for championship gains

Niall McIntyre

Mount Sion recorded another big win in the Waterford championship, destroying Lismore to qualify for the county semi-finals, but Austin Gleeson isn’t getting carried away.

In fairness, with Ballygunner still in the hunt, why would he?

The All-Ireland club champions have been untouchable within the county over the last decade – if they win this year it will be their ninth Waterford title in a row – but if anybody is to beat them them, you’d have to say that, going on the last few years anyway, the city team are the likely lads.

How likely remains to be seen but there’s no denying the facts – they have the hurlers and they have the history too.

Tradition always counts for something and despite Ballygunner’s recent dominance, with 35 titles to their name, Mount Sion still have some bragging rights in the sense that they remain the competition’s most successful club.

Now Ballygunner are next best, 15 championships behind, and given their dominance at underage level, it’s conceivable that they could pass them out in less than 20, but Mount Sion will be no push-overs.

Not this year and not ever.

Only two points separated the sides in the semi-final last year but, a year older and a year wiser, Mount Sion look like a new team now.

They’ve danced their way through the Waterford Championship so and today in Dungarvan, with Davy Fitzgerald watching on, they put on a sensational display.

Aussie Gleeson top scored with 1-6, including some rakers from play and a peach from a 21 yard free but it wasn’t all flash and brilliance from the 2016 Hurler of the Year.

He showed some fair bravery too.

But Mount Sion are far from a one man team and that’s why they might just have a chance when it comes down to it. Alan Kirwan was brilliant at wing forward while beside him, Eoin Whelan is not just a horse of a man – he can hurl too. PJ Fanning, Stephen Roche and the two Martin O’Neills are also tidy hurlers and as their talisman Aussie says, they’ve become a bit more consistent as a team.

“In previous years, we might play well in one game, then fall away in another. So we’re hoping that we will have a bit more consistency and thankfully we’re showing that,” he told TG4’s Micheál Ó Domhnaill.

“Look, Ballygunner are unbelievable. Their underage system is incredible. But look, we’ll try anyway, and hopefully we can go one step further.”

As for the county scene, Gleeson flatly denied the rumours that, under Liam Cahill, Waterford timed their run wrong this year and were burnt out by the time the Munster championship came around.

“No (It wasn’t a timing thing,) we went for the league. We got a bit more confidence maybe than we needed to have after the League, but the championship was extremely disappointing and everyone feels that.

“So hopefully there’s a hungry bunch there ready to go when we get back,” he added.

“We have a good enough team. We just have to perform. It’s up to us to perform. We were in the condition to do that last year, and we just didn’t, it’s that simple. We just folded, and couldn’t compete. We won the League but it meant nothing because we did nothing in the championship.

TG4 also caught up with Davy Fitzgerald, the new manager, and he says that they’ll have to be better at the business end of the season, when the Munster championship comes around.

“I’ve seen one or two lads that I’d like to look at again. There’ll definitely be a few more lads in (who haven’t been in yet.) I have it in my head to bring in 43 lads, and then to cut it down to 34 then after some training and challenge matches. I’m confident that we’ll have the backroom team fully together in the next few days too.

“We’ll be competitive in every game, but our championship performance will have to be a little bit better.”

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