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Wallace hails return of All-Star defender Falconer from All-Ireland final injury

Thu 27th Jun

Daragh Ó Conchúir


by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Waterford manager, Jerry Wallace has recalled how he empathised with Vikki Falconer leaving the field in the opening minutes of last year’s Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie final, even as a Corkman supporting the Rebels on the day.

Falconer ended with a torn ACL but did collect an All-Star as the outstanding marker in the country during a campaign that brought the Déise to an All-Ireland decider for the first time since 1945.

“Vikki is one of those players that has given her life to camogie,” said Wallace on WLR this week. “What happened her in the All-Ireland final last year, no matter who you were – I was following Cork that day – our hearts went out to her because she is a tremendous player and we were all looking forward to seeing her battle with Amy O’Connor that day.

“Vikki has been meticulous. I remember I met her in December in Dungarvan at the very first training session when we got together. She came over to me, coat on and tracksuit, and she said, ‘Jerry, will you keep me in the programme?’ I said, there was never any doubt that I was keeping her in the programme and we would assist her in any way to get back.”

Falconer got some game time in the victory over Antrim last Saturday and is likely to see more for this Saturday’s clash with Derry at Walsh Park. A draw will be enough to see the Suirsiders through to the quarter-finals, while a Derry win would give the Oak Leafers the prized spot in their stead.

Wallace is buoyed by having the strongest panel available to him since his appointment, with the return to fitness of Falconer, Abby Flynn and Anne Corcoran among others.

Into the bargain, he feels that the squad has answered his exhortation to take some of the scoring pressure off 2023 Player of the Year, Beth Carton, not least Modeligo powerhouse Mairéad O’Brien, who has raised at least one green flag in each of her four outings to date, scoring six goals in total.

“It’s a winner-takes-all game. We’re really looking forward to Derry coming to town, to Waterford, to Walsh Park. We’ve great respect for them. They’re coming in as the (intermediate) champions of last year so I’ve no doubt they’ve got their dreams and aspirations for themselves but we have ours as well and that’s to get back into a quarter-final again.

“As a manager, and a group of players, we are delighted we have all our main ammunition available for selection.

“The challenge I made to the players after the National League… I made it clear to the players that I was no longer willing to accept that Beth Carton was to carry Waterford. I needed more players to step up to the mark, I needed more players to come in and assist on the scoring charts and we’re getting that return.

“Mairéad is positioned in full-forward. She reminds me of the traditional full-forward, where she’s a target for an out-ball .If we can’t get our running game, we hit her with the ball as quickly as we can and she has been delivering.”

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