You have to take some things on the chin.
Disappointed out at Waterford losing to Clare, I met some Clare suppprters outside Walsh Park. There was plenty of banter about 1998 and the ferocious tussles the two counties put in over the years.
We ended up going to the Mount Sion clubhouse together and drinking a couple of pints.
Lots of banter, as I say, but we soon moved on to what this result meant for our Munster campaigns. Naturally they are delighted, and their panel get a break next weekend. Clare heads are in a good place.
Waterford heads couldn’t be more different. Being honest, I feel this loss is a huge setback. Getting out of Munster will now be a massive task.
As every hurler knows, playing in Cusack Park, in Ennis, is something else. I hurled there numerous times.
The stadium is so raw, the whole experience. Clare players, in whatever era, see the place getting to you, and they feed off seeing it.
There was always a suffocation factor in Ennis. There still is.
We thought Walsh Park would give Waterford a similar dynamic, an x-factor. Beforehand, all the ingredients seemed to be there.
First home game in 23 years. Sun beaming down. Packed streets. The Walsh Park surface looking the best any of us have ever seen it.
I enjoyed the day, aside from the result, but I never felt that x-factor. Not in the slightest.
There was no suffocation factor in Walsh Park yesterday. I was there as a normal supporter, sitting with my wife, not as a former player. I’d love to have been on my feet from the throw-in. But that feeling never took hold, until Waterford’s late rally, which just ran out of time.
Maurice Shanahan coming on around the 62nd minute obviously changed matters a lot. It wasn’t simply changing a player. It was a change in approach.
Basically, Waterford were able to go more direct. I’ve always noticed this Clare full-back-line is least comfortable with a floating, hovering high ball into them.
Maybe we should have tested out this angle in the first 15 minutes, rather than in the last ten minutes? Austin Gleeson could even have been full-forward for the opening quarter. We didn’t really probe that possible weakness in the air.
And who knows? An early goal might have brought the suffocation factor into action. Goals always energise a crowd, which feeds into their team.
Maybe the 2019 Waterford team is a bit stretched between two hurling philosophies. They had Derek McGrath as manager for several seasons, successful seasons, and now they have Páraic Fanning, who has a much more traditional philosophy.
The transition hasn’t quite gelled as yet. Being specific, Tadhg de Búrca looks like he doesn’t yet know whether he’s a sweeper or a centre-back. He allowed Tony Kelly to drop off him, into space.
Tipperary are up next and they have several fellas who can play this role to a tee. That would worry me.
Changes are probably coming for next weekend (aside from Noel Connors’ injury situation). But it’s all too easy to call for changes, especially after a loss. Change in itself won’t achieve a whole lot. It’s actually improvements that are required.
So the real question now for Páraic Fanning and management is trying to find cohesion. As I mentioned, the current panel might be a bit caught between two hurling philosophies. It’s probably going to take more than one or two championship games to iron out this issue.
It’s going to be tough. Let’s be honest: Tipperary looked awesome at times against Cork. They just whizzed around the ball.
Their midfielders and forwards score so naturally, so easily. Even their half-backs do!
And Tipp are the best in the business at taking goal chances. Down in Pâirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday, Bubbles made John McGrath’s goal brilliantly, and John finished it brilliantly.
Being honest, going to Thurles next weekend looks a monumental task.
Dalo's Hurling Podcast: Bubbles baffles Cork, Clare conquer Walsh Park, Dubs rattle the cage