It doesn’t get any easier for them this weekend, a date with All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, albeit in Walsh Park. Given that there are a mere five games in this year’s league, the pressure is on but, says team captain Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, Waterford are not the only team in this situation.
“Eight of the top teams played last week, four teams beat the other teams by seven-to-10 points [Kilkenny beat Tipp by eight, Galway beat Dublin by seven, and in Division 1B Limerick beat Clare by 14].
“Even though it’s disappointing to lose by that you just have to take it as it comes. When things go wrong you get beaten but there’s not much difference between getting beaten by five points and winning by five points.
“A game can turn on any little thing. Cork were good on the day, a good young team, they’ve had a good start but there will be plenty of twists and turns in the league and championship before the year is out.”
It’s not that Brick is in denial — as he then admitted, “we have a lot to work on”.
There were a few factors working against Waterford for the game against Cork. On and off the pitch they are in transition; that was new manager Michael Ryan’s first big outing with the team, while on the field they were without stalwarts such as John Mullane, Tony Browne and Eoin Kelly.
“In fairness, Waterford have a lot of younger players coming through,” Brick points out, citing as positive examples the recent breakthrough Harty Cup success by Coláiste na nDéise, coming so shortly after De La Salle’s All-Ireland two-in-a-row.
“If you look at seven or eight years ago Waterford probably didn’t have a team competing in A colleges hurling,” he said.
“It’s a great grounding and as senior players, you’re looking at that and thinking the future is bright. Last year you had two fellas, Darragh Fives and Pauric Mahony, came into the set-up just out of minor and made huge strides — they were super. You’re hoping for that every year but you can’t say we’ll get ‘x’ amount of players.
“In Waterford we have a very young group at the moment.”
A learning curve this Sunday then, but a test also. He added: “It’s going to be a tough one, there’s no doubt about it, but you test yourself against the best and see how you’re going.”
Meanwhile Waterford sources have confirmed that Adrian Power, sub goalkeeper on the county senior hurling team, left the panel after training last night.
Power’s departure comes just days before Michael Ryan’s side seek to return to winning ways in the Allianz HL in their home game against Kilkenny.
Ryan’s options are already reduced by John Mullane’s self-imposed sabbatical, and the upcoming departure of Brian O’Sullivan to the US for the summer.
A highly-regarded goalkeeper, Power was expected to battle Stephen O’Keeffe of Ballygunner for Waterford’s number one jersey this season, but Ian O’Regan of Mount Sion lined out for the Deise in their league opener, a heavy defeat away to Cork.