Waterford manager Páraic Fanning is adamant their Munster championship campaign is far from over, even though the Déise will likely need points from their remaining three games to finish in the top three.
Across both provinces in 2018, Clare were the sole county to advance to the All-Ireland series off the back of an opening day defeat. That reversal played out in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and so the Banner still had two home games in which to resurrect their summer.
That’s the notable difference to Waterford’s current predicament as they must head to Thurles this Sunday and also have a date with Cork on Leeside in round four, two games where they cannot afford to come out second best if they’re to avoid another June exit.
“We’re far from done. We’ve lost one game. Win the next three and we’re still in this championship. If we lose, it’s a different story. But we believe in ourselves.
“Just because of one defeat, we’re not going to think our championship is run, far from it,” said Fanning.
“It was a great occasion in Waterford all week, to have the games here. We’re just disappointed we didn’t get the result everybody craved. We have to dust ourselves down, get ready for Tipperary next Sunday. Hopefully, come out energised again, which I think we will.”
Instead of zoning in on his team’s late push for the line, Fanning pointed to the five unanswered scores which Clare struck late in the first half, opening up a gap which Waterford spent all of the second half trying to claw back.
“It’s not all about the last few minutes. It’s about the length of the game. There is no-one saying Clare got five points just before half-time which possibly won the game. Just before the end of the game, we were the team coming. It’s probably a mirror of the first half.
“I thought we really got on top in the half-back-line [towards the end]. Tadhg [de Búrca] came thundering into it.
“We had some good chances. Once or twice, maybe, we didn’t use the ball as well as we would like. Look at the last 20 minutes and there was one team driving forward. We had every chance.”
The Waterford boss was disappointed with the concession of John Conlon’s goal three minutes in.
“It shouldn’t have happened. It’s something we wouldn’t be happy with. We were coming out with the ball, it was turned over, he stole in behind the ruck and stayed there. That goal was there all through the game, a little cushion.”
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