Déise dream of top flight return

Neither Waterford or Armagh will view this game as their plateau.

For both counties this is the chance to return to the level they believe they belong.

Waterford reached eight senior finals out of 10 from 1991 to 2000, winning five, but now find themselves in the second tier. But for manager Pat O’Brien, it has been a case of allowing the side to gain the experience needed to return to senior.

“It has probably been good for the county,” he said.

“We are starting to mature now and hopefully we can kick on. We had to blood a lot of young players, even the last couple of years, the fellas who were there before me had to bring a lot of players on. At this stage, they’re coming right and there’s a lot of experience there too.”

In his first year in charge, O’Brien felt his side were good enough to make a tilt at the All-Ireland.

“We started back last September and I’m happy with the way things are going,” he said.

“We knew that we had a strong panel and our main objective starting out was to do well in the league. We did that and then we won the Munster championship for the fourth time in a row. We set out our stall then in the All-Ireland championship, we knew that there were a lot of other strong teams.

“We have played Armagh twice already, they beat us by six points the last day.”

The Ulster side have been senior more recently, re-grading last year. They reached the 2006 senior final, losing by a point to Cork, and their boss James Daly acknowledges the work of his side in giving themselves a chance of an immediate return.

“Some of the girls felt that we didn’t need to go down and they wanted to put that right. They have put a lot of work and a lot of effort in and we’re back where we want to be.

“We have eight girls from the 2006 panel, maybe three or four would have started that day. We have two or three who were on the fringes then too, so hopefully that can help.”

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