Waterford boss Paraic Fanning says matching Tipperary’s intensity is the first item on his side’s agenda in tomorrow’s Munster SHC clash in Semple Stadium.
Waterford were edged out by Clare at home last weekend and face a confident Premier side who finished their clash with Cork seven points to the good.
“You could see how good Tipperary are on the ball last Sunday, they put up a massive score,” said Fanning.
“Any time you go to Tipperary, particularly when you’re playing a team managed by Liam Sheedy, you know you’re going to have to match their intensity first and foremost. That’s something we’ll be working hard to do all this week, but we also love playing in Thurles ourselves. The players would have faced each other a lot in the last couple of years, both with club and county, so they know each other well. The games were tight last year and they’re not different this year, and that’s what we’d expect again.”
It’s Fanning’s first year as Waterford manager but last season he experienced the round-robin format as a Wexford selector.
“It is a help, and in that way the league this year was a help as well, because we ended up going week on week because of the weekend we had a game cancelled. That was good preparation for the championship, even if it wasn’t planned, it replicated what had to be done in terms of recovery and so on.
"It’s a quick turnaround but at least it’s the same for Tipperary and both teams are in the exact same scenario. Getting the balance right on recovery is something that all teams are dealing with.”
The Deise lost by the narrowest of margins last weekend to Clare and Fanning is looking for greater efficiency from his side tomorrow.
Our intensity level may come up a little, we probably felt early on last Sunday we needed more of that, but at the same time when you look at the score, 1-20 isn’t a huge score in modern championship hurling.
There was only a point in it coming to half-time and we gave away a few scores, but we probably need to be a little bit more efficient with the ball. In terms of possession, the stats show we were probably a little ahead of Clare overall, but we needed to be more efficient in our use of the ball.
The Mount Sion clubman didn’t feel that his players felt any extra pressure playing at home: “I don’t think that was a big issue for us, the pitch was in top condition and the atmosphere was fantastic there on the day.
“Before the game we were very happy with our preparations. We were also playing a team that many people see as legitimate challengers for the All-Ireland this year.
“There are things we can improve on, absolutely, because there always are. Every team will feel that after their first game in the championship. Obviously, we’d prefer to have gotten a point out of the game, but it didn’t happen. Tipperary had a huge win in Cork so we’re going to be facing a side that’s full of confidence, but we’re looking forward to the trip to Thurles, we can’t wait for it.”
Fanning expects to have a pretty full deck to pick from: “We’re pretty good. Shane Fives got a bit of a knock towards the end of the game, and with a one-week turnaround it’s tight if someone gets injured, to get them right in time for the next game, so it’ll be tight enough for him to make it. Darragh (Fives) is still out, so it’s the two of them who are the only doubts.”
Waterford will need all hands on deck to manage a seriously impressive forward line, including John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, last weekend’s man of the match, in a new, deep-lying role.
“Tipp have changed up their forward line, and they’re getting a good return from players like Bubbles, he’s in great form but all the Tipperary forwards are good on the ball, their movement is first class, and they’ll be confident after last Sunday.
“Now we’d like to think that we have players who are capable of similar levels, and both sides will obviously be looking to make the best use of their best players, but we won’t be found wanting when it comes to application and work rate, certainly.”