After the winter sun, the summer chill for Waterford

Waterford 1-7 Offaly 1-20: This we expected. Tom McGlinchey’s letter, read out at last Monday night’s County Board meeting, had us forewarned.

After the winter sun, the summer chill for Waterford

Waterford chairman Paddy Joe Ryan, addressing club delegates in Lawlor’s Hotel, opened up the piece of paper bearing McGlinchey’s writing and proceeded to paint a most worrying picture.

“Since the McGrath Cup and National League, 14 players are unavailable through injury, withdrawal, family commitments and trips to America,” McGlinchey wrote.

“This is not to be offered as an excuse but no county could sustain this type of losses, especially a county like Waterford. Seven or eight of these players would be championship starters.”

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon: Waterford pummelled by 13-points on their home turf against a county who hadn’t won a championship game in four years.

From the starting team that delivered McGrath Cup glory in late January, seven lined out here. And how the landscape has changed since that historic night in Fraher Field.

From the win over Cork, the Déise’s first competitive victory over their neighbours since 1957, the annexing of the McGrath to this; this tame and limp championship exit by a depleted Waterford outfit.

Brothers Thomas and Maurice O’Gorman had their sister’s wedding to contend with on Saturday, while the absence of other first-team regulars like Shane Aherne, Gavin Nugent and Stephen Enright can be attributed to the variety of reasons listed in McGlinchey’s letter.

Teams are entitled to tog 26-players on championship match-day, Waterford togged 24 here.

“For some players, I don’t know are they willing to put in the effort or do they want to put in the effort,” surmised the Waterford boss at full-time.

“Maybe some of the better players in the county aren’t playing for one reason or another.

“There was great excitement here in January, we had great days in Clashmore when we beat Cork and the night we played UCC there was a full stand and a great atmosphere. I think at the start of the year we had our strongest panel together, without doubt, but it was just unfortunate as the season went on... I suppose that’s the problem with weaker counties, the lure of going over to the States is there for them.

“That is the reality of it (doing the job with one hand tied behind your back). You would nearly be dreading getting the phone call sometimes, thinking ‘who is going where now’.

Handed a two-year contract last winter, McGlinchey finishes out his maiden season as Déise boss without a championship win.

Will he stick around?

“We are hoping for the coming year that players will commit. This is a long-term project. Playing inter-county football for Waterford isn’t as attractive as playing hurling for Waterford. If we get the best players available to play, I think Waterford will have a bright future.”

For Offaly manager Pat Flanagan, a massive sigh of relief in having ended the Faithful County’s four-year wait for a championship win.

Graham Guilfoyle, Joseph O’Connor, Nigel Dunne (0-2) and Anton Sullivan had the visitors five in front after six minutes of action and although Waterford cut the deficit back to the minimum by half-time (1-5 to 0-9), a second burst yielding seven points in a 13-minute spell ensured their progression to round two of the qualifiers.

“It is all about rebuilding this team confidence-wise, rebuilding their morale, strength and physicality. The whole thing has to be rebuilt,” said Flanagan. “We are getting there slowly. We saw when we do play to our potential like we did in the league final at Croke Park what we are capable of.

“The big thing with this team was getting a championship win. The players are there, the football ability is there. It is just about getting over that mental gap and mental strain, today will be a help in that regard.”

Scorers for Offaly:

N Dunne (0-8, 0-4 frees); A Sullivan (1-1); G Guilfoyle (0-3); B Allen (0-2); E Carroll, W Mulhall, C McNamee, P Cunningham, J O’Connor, J Moloney (0-1 each).

Scorers for Waterford:

J Veale (1-1); M Ferncombe (0-2), JJ Hutchinson, P Hurney, T Prendergast, L Lawlor (0-1 each).

OFFALY:

A Mulhall; B Darby, P McConway, C Donohue; N Darby, J Moloney, J O’Connor; C McNamee, N Smith; P Cunningham, G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan; B Allen, N Dunne, W Mulhall.

Subs:

for N Bracken for W Mulhall (HT, bc), E Carroll for B Allen (HT), J Evans for Guilfoyle (62), D Brady for B Darby (67), N Geraghty for Smith (67), P McPadden for Moloney (70).

WATERFORD:

S Barron; D Crowley, P Crowley, T Ó hUallacháin; S Briggs, P Whyte, S Prendergast; T Prendergast, C Guiry; JJ Hutchinson, M Ferncombe, M O’Halloran; L Lawlor, J Veale, P Hurney.

Subs:

D Guiry for Hutchinson (25 mins), L Ó Lonáin for O’Halloran (47), C O’Keeffe for Hurney (52), M Curry for Guiry (60), K Murphy for Prendergast (67), J Curry for Veale (67).

Referee:

F Kelly (Longford).

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