While Derek McGrath’s charges find themselves in a relegation play-off away to Cork next weekend after finishing on four points, it is clear his approach is different this year.
Now with two straight wins under their belts, they look like a team that is finding rhythm.
His preparation is geared towards a hectic Munster hurling championship. Would relegation be the end of the world?
“We haven’t actually mentioned the whole importance of staying up in 1A as opposed to going down to 1B,” he said.
“And that has been key to our whole approach. That will be six games played. We have two out of five won. We knew we would be a slow burner, we are going relatively well the last couple of weeks and getting another victory today.
We won’t be putting all our eggs in one basket in terms of the approach that we have to stay up in 1A. We will be going out there to see can we get a nugget ahead of the Clare game (their opening game) on the 27th (May). We have a 21-day period where we have four games to play.
“I’m not saying we are flippant about being in 1A or 1B but we are trying to get good performances and (see) if they bring victory. There won’t be a psychological scar if we end up in 1B. (But) we are not going to go up there (Cork) and throw our hat at it. We will be going all out as I’m sure Cork will be.”
Clare, against the wind, set out their stall early, leading 0-5 to 0-2. They extended the advantage when Conor McGrath got on to the end of an Ian Galvin ball, and found the net on 17 minutes. Seadna Morey added a point in the same minute to make it 1-8 to 0-5.
Inspired by superb goalkeeping from Ian O’Regan, Waterford staged a comeback striking the next seven points unanswered.
A man-of the-match display from Patrick Curran was central to them pushing a point ahead. A goal from Curran two minutes from half-time was the tonic the home crowd in the attendance of 2,656, needed. They led 1-13 to 1-10 at the change of ends.
That was a crucial period, according to Clare co- manager Gerry O’Connor.
They pushed their sweeper into the middle of the field and they had a three-man midfield. We were debating would we push Patrick O’Connor into midfield but again you are looking at a guy going into a position he wouldn’t be most suited to. Ten minutes before half-time we said let’s keep it as tight as we can and restructure.
After the restart, Clare drew level with Tony Kelly (2) and a Peter Duggan free. And with the wind to their backs you would have expected the visitors to pull away.
However, Waterford, who had made eight changes from the Cork match, stayed with them and it was tit-for-tat for most of the second half, forcing Duggan to go for goal from a close-in free in stoppage time — to no avail.
Disappointing, given the second half? Yes, agreed O’Connor.
“But Waterford have got serious firepower in that half-back line. We didn’t get enough width in our half-forward line and midfield, particularly in the middle of the second half. Ultimately, they were winning high ball, Tadhg de Búrca and Austin Gleeson. There was no point in hitting high ball down on them.”
Waterford finished with 14 men after Conor Gleeson received a second yellow near full-time.
P Curran (1-13, 0-9 frees), M Kearney (0-4), S Bennett (0-2), K Bennett, C Gleeson, A Gleeson, K Moran (0-1 each).
P Duggan (0-5, 0-4 frees), C McGrath (1-1), T Kelly (0-4), D Reidy (0-3), I Galvin and J Conlon (0-2 each), C Malone, S O’Donnell, S Morey (0-1 each).
I O’Regan; S Fives, B Coughlan, I Kenny; T de Burca; C Gleeson, A Gleeson, K Bennett; M O’Brien, K Moran; M Walsh, S Bennett, DJ Foran; M Kearney, P Curran.
T Devine for DJ Foran, T Ryan for M Walsh (both 50), C Prunty for M O’Brien (54), M Shanahan for K Moran (60), Philip Mahony for S Bennett (71).
D Tuohy; J Browne, C Cleary, P O’Connor; S Morey, D McInerney, D Fitzgerald; C Malone, T Kelly; P Duggan, J Conlon, D Reidy; S O’Donnell, I Galvin, C McGrath.
M O’Malley for S Morey (52), J Shanahan for P O’Connor (60), C McInerney for C Malone (67), R Taylor for I Galvin, E Quirke for J Browne (70).
Johnny Murphy (Limerick).