Galway began in an orthodox formation at Semple Stadium and only opted to put an extra body in defence after Stephen Bennett netted Waterford’s third goal in the 15th minute.
“Maybe, as management, we were a bit slow to do it,” said Ward of their tactics. “The sweeper did slow it down. But then you have five marking six up the other end. Seán [Loftus] has [the sweeper] game off to a tee and he did it very well.
“All our boys; the lads that came off there today had given everything and it just wasn’t good enough.”
Ward acknowledged the concession of those early goals proved their downfall. “The first two goals were really the killers. We would have managed conceding one but conceding two was really a killer. You were on the back foot straight away.
“I think we had a goal chance ourselves down the other end but instead it came down and finished up in our net. That’s sport.
“They could have thrown in the towel at half-time but they didn’t. The lads showed character in the second-half. I think we brought it back to eight points at one stage. I felt if we just got one or two more maybe the doubt would come in. But they were strong and they had answers all over the field.”
Ward added: “We were hoping that maybe we would get them on an off day, that they might be showing a bit of complacency and we would punish them a little bit. But they didn’t. They were up for the game and fair play to them.”