Tonight, however, the Déise take on Cork in a semi-final at Fraher Field (throw-in 7.30pm), having beaten Clare after losing to Tipperary first time out. Put it to manager OranCurran that getting to the last four is a successful year, though, and he is emphatic in terms of the county’s aspirations.
“At the start of the year, the aim was to beat Tipp,” he said.
“That would have laid down a marker and we came close, but on the night, we just made one or two silly mistakes.
“Maybe it was the case that we caught Tipp by surprise but we had been very confident among ourselves. Outside the camp, it was probably seen as a surprise that we came so close but the lads that we have are capable of competing against anyone.”
An improvement brought about by the advent of development squads on Suirside — Curran has been with this group since U15 — and a particularly talented group this year have helped to increase internal expectations. There is the constant struggle of being the second-favourite code in the county, but the manager is pleased with the panel assembled.
“Hurling is still number one by a long way,” he said. “Maybe three months before the development squad championships, there would be the same emphasis put on both codes but it’s difficult in terms of dual players.”
“There are a few on our panel this year who never played in any of the development squads, but once you get to minor, there’s more interest because of the higher profile involved. We set out our stall and targeted a number of lads who would have been playing senior football with their clubs.”
Tonight, Waterford will still undoubtedly be outsiders, but that is something Curran will try to harness.
“The only pressure really comes from ourselves. Cork are under a different kind of pressure I suppose; if they were to lose it wouldn’t just be bad in terms of losing a semi-final but because it’s Waterford, it’d be regarded as humiliating.
“From our point of view, it’s an ideal situation. We’ll be telling lads to just go out and play without any pressure.”
In the other semi-final, Tipperary host Kerry in Thurles, a game with a 7pm throw-in. The Kingdom manager Jack O’Connor is acutely aware that victory can’t be taken for granted. Lean times at underage have meant a reappraisal but O’Connor is satisfied that positive moves are being made.
“Three years ago, a Kerry team led Tipperary by 10 points at half-time but lost and that Tipp team went on to win the All-Ireland,” he said.
“There’s no such thing as traditional counties anymore, the last few years have shown us that and we’re certainly not going to Thurles thinking that it’s just a case of showing up.
“It’s generally accepted now that the players aren’t growing on trees in Kerry anymore, and that was why we set up the development-squad system.
“Most of the players on this year’s minor team have come up through that and people involved with them, like Micheál Ó Sé, John Galvin and Eamon Whelan, have been there all along.”
WATERFORD (MF v Cork): C Brown (Erin’s Own); C O’Neill (Brickey Rangers), J Guiry (The Nire), M Cronin (Ardmore); M Shine (St Oliver’s), E O’Halloran (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg), J Mullaney (Stradbally); C Curran (Brickey Rangers), C Prunty (Ballinacourty); D Guiry (The Nire), C Murray (Rathgormack), A Donnelly (Dungarvan); J Allen (Dungarvan), C Gleeson (The Nire), D Lyons (Dungarvan).
CORK (MF v Waterford): C O’Driscoll (Castlehaven); C O’Donovan (Clonakilty), K Flahive (Douglas), S Powter (Douglas); T Bushe (Ilen Rovers), D Meaney (St Michael’s), C Kiely (Ballincollig); S O’Leary (Bantry Blues), B Coakley (Carrigaline); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), M Ó Duinnín (Naomh Abán), S Ronayne (Clyda Rovers); S Kingston (Douglas), M Hurley (Castlehaven), D Buckley (Ballyclough). Subs: A Kidney (Passage), A Hassett (Ilen Rovers), J Mullins (Éire Óg), M Lordan (Ballinora), D O’Neill (Mayfield), A Joyce (Youghal), G Murphy (Castletownbere), M Cottrell (Newmarket), M Collins (Kilmacabea).
KERRY (MF v Tipperary): S Ryan (Rathmore); J Morgan (Austin Stacks), B Begley (An Ghaeltacht), T O’Sullivan (Dingle); D O’Donoghue (Spa), A Barry (Na Gaeil), B Sugrue (Renard); B O’Sullivan (Dingle), M O’Connor (Dingle); M Flaherty (Dingle), B Rayle (Lispole), M Burns (Dr Crokes); J Kiely (Dr Crokes), K Spillane (Templenoe), T Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht). Subs: E O’Connell (St Senan’s), S O’Sullivan (Templenoe), J Foley (Ballydonoghue), L Kearney (Spa), C Coffey (Kerins O’Rahillys), P Clifford (Templenoe), S Cronin (Spa), JM Foley (Kilgarvan), A Quigley (Valentia).