Derek McGrath anticipates Waterford’s chances will be dismissed because of Kilkenny’s excellent replay record under Brian Cody, writes John Fogarty.
Semple Stadium in Thurles will host the All-Ireland semi-final replay next Saturday (6.45pm throw-in) and McGrath already forecasts the view that the Déise blew their best chance of beating the Cats earlier today.
“It's a mixture of emotions, definitely. You've answered the question, I suppose. I think we should congratulate our lads for the nature of the performance.
“It was heroic. It was epic. They gave everything inside their soul. Anytime you have that, there's a level of congratulations that is merited, if you like.
“There's obviously a small tinge of disappointment based on being in the position to win the game, if you like. So I don't believe in hiding disappointment for the sake of psychological advantages that will be gained the next day.
“I think we're disappointed we didn't close it out. But we're not portraying any bad body language by doing that in my opinion. We feel we've a different Waterford team that's able to recover.
“The general consensus will be that Kilkenny don't lose replays, that you don't get a second chance et cetera. So we'll be coming in as much under the radar as we did today.”
McGrath had enjoyed the low-key build-up to the game.
“I just felt it was an ideal scenario in terms of the preparation. I felt the 10-point victory against Wexford was almost kind of was dismissed as a non-event, if you like.
“A, I thought that was harsh on Wexford, and, B, I thought it was an ideal scenario for us coming into the game. It was Croke Park and we could have right cut, as such, but yet be clever as well at times. I thought everything was set up and I thought our preparation was excellent.
“We came up to Carton House yesterday and just got together as a group. Even though in 2008 Waterford went up the night before it was labelled as a mistake.
“We just felt the young group, myself included, on Saturday when you're together you're less nervous. You're kind of together as a group and I thought that worked well. We put everything into it.”
McGrath accepted Waterford retreated too much in the closing stages when they hit six straight wides from distance and conceded the Walter Walsh goal. He also put down that fallow period to tiredness.
“We stepped up, but we came back, I suppose. That's what we were trying to do all day and I think there was a little bit of fatigue crept in there with 63 or 64 minutes gone, I thought.
“The fatigue was creeping in with key players. So you're balancing key players being fatigued against that key part of the game where you need those fellas.
“And I think that was the kind of conundrum for us on the line. We had a few really key players that were firing and were doing well.
“But they were tiring. And I think that was the reason we didn't make the sub between the 66th and 75th minute.
“I'm just thinking out loud as I normally do. I'm just looking back on it now in my own mind here.
“Yeah, I think there came a stage where we were clinging to it that you could probably label the fact that we retreated too early, if you like.
“But very hard to control the match day especially when you're on the cusp of 60 years of hurt being evaporated.”