Derek McGrath reckons Walsh Park's tight confines will suit Déise down to ground
With hurling renowned as a wide open game and for its free flowing passages of play, there's no doubting that Walsh Park and its tight confines could have a big say this summer.
With a breadth of just 80 metres, Walsh Park in Waterford is the narrowest GAA ground in the country. And while matched by St Conleth's Park in Newbridge for slimness, the Déise destination is still out on its own when talking about a pitch playing tight.
Because at 135mts in length, St Conleth's is a full seven metres shorter than Waterford's home which grants for a narrower feel, both aesthetically and physically.
We were chatting to the former Waterford manager Derek McGrath during the week and we quizzed him about the benefits and disadvantages of such a slender setting.
"Yeah, I think the tightness will suit Waterford in that they’ll be able to be very cohesive in their defensive unit. The six will of them will be able to be very close together. It’s very hard for an opposition team to create space in Walsh Park when a team is honed and trained as they will be under Pauric.
"I saw the dimensions of Parnell Park were mentioned by Nicky English a few weeks ago, I said to myself ‘Walsh Park is definitely smaller.’ It’s very very hard to create space there. Clare love to create space, they love to come deep and do it. I don’t see Waterford falling into that trap and following them if you like. I see them remaining cohesive and keeping that six together. The only team that are capable of mixing it up against Waterford in Walsh Park are Limerick because they might throw Hegarty in on the edge of the square with Gillane - they can mix it and they can go long with Seamie Flanagan too.
"I remember when Cork beat Galway in the All-Ireland final in 2005 - they were going short all year and then the day of the final, they went very direct for the final. Limerick have that capacity to change it, but I still see Waterford winning their two home games."
Long and tightly packed, you could say Waterford's premier destination plays into a defenders' hands. It got us thinking, which are the tightest and which are most open grounds in the country.
Here are a few stats for you from the official TFK pitch dimensions thread.
At L 145m X W 90m, Semple Stadium, Pearse Stadium, Casement Park, Dr Hyde Park, Cusack Park, O'Connor Park, MacCumhaill Park are the biggest GAA grounds in the country.
The smallest is St Conleth's Park at 135m X 80m while Down's, Mayo's, Limerick's and Waterford's also play very tight.
Walsh Park had no part in last year's Munster championship due to health and safety concerns but it will be front and centre this time around, with the Déise having two home games against Clare and Limerick there.