DONAL O'GRADY: Derek McGrath must now galvanise Waterford

Victories are often glossed over while defeats are analysed intently. So how will Waterford react to their first loss of 2015?

Will their belief be badly shaken by the performance against Tipperary or will their hopes of All-Ireland glory remain as strong as ever?

Manager Derek McGrath has been careful all season to focus only on the next game, so now Dublin is all that fills his thoughts. Progression to an All-Ireland semi-final would be an important milestone for a number of reasons. It would give this young team some much-needed experience in Croke Park, more so against All-Ireland champions Kilkenny.

But first comes the Dublin test. Every team’s confidence takes a knock when they lose. McGrath will be looking for positives from the Munster final to galvanise the efforts and restore belief for their return to Thurles.

They lost by five points to Tipperary. But it could have been much closer: Stephen O’Keeffe handed Tipp two scores with wayward short balls while Colin Dunford and Jamie Barron missed efforts under pressure.

That’s the five-point gap closed. Add in the deliveries struck aimlessly towards their attack over the entirety of the game and McGrath has a strong case to put before his players as he convinces them of their worth.

Waterford are a young team which lacked composure on occasions. This is a skill that takes time to develop and improves with experience. There will be other examples unearthed when the coaching analysts study the DVD as they seek to develop the theory that they are just as good as Tipperary.

It was a 41st Munster title for Tipperary but the outpouring of emotion was incredible to witness. Former Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins revealed recently that the players were determined to win silverware for manager Eamon O’Shea, such was their respect for the man. But will this victory and possession of the Munster title tick that box mentally and dilute their focus over the weeks to mid-August or will it fuel their desire to drive them on for the ultimate prize?

It was obvious that they had their homework done over the three weeks on match-ups for the Waterford challenge and they would have prepared accordingly in training.

They will only know their opponents two weeks before they meet Galway or Cork in the semi-final and then move on to another chapter, maybe, in the continuing saga with Brian Cody and Kilkenny.

Wing-back Kieran Bergin stated on these pages yesterday that Tipperary were determined to outwork all opposition this year. He may not have meant it as such but he has just thrown down a challenge to potential adversaries.

He has given the opposition a goal for their next encounter and handed managers an angle to motivate their troops.

No manager looks beyond his next encounter. It could lead to a loss of focus and this can easily transfer to the playing panel. But yesterday both Anthony Cunningham and Jimmy Barry-Murphy might have delegated someone with good game analysis skills to work quietly pinpointing the Tipp areas of strength and those for potential exploitation, if they exist.

These would be ready for inspection in the case of a win immediately after the game on Sunday week.


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