Waterford selector Dan Shanahan insists Allianz Hurling League final opponents Clare are “streets ahead” of the Déise.
The counties meet in the May 1 showpiece ahead of a Munster SHC semi-final on June 5 and Shanahan was impressed with Clare’s “absolutely outstanding” performance against Kilkenny in Sunday’s League semi-final in Thurles.
Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald has described Waterford as “the best team in the country” but Shanahan responded in kind, hailing the Banner men’s qualities.
He said: “Watching the game on Sunday, Clare were just unbelievable.
“The system they use, everybody knows to a tee what their jobs are.
“We were behind the Kilkenny lads watching the game and no bulls**t, they were absolutely outstanding.
“I’m not building up Clare, I’m just being honest, they were absolutely outstanding. They are streets ahead of us. They’ve won All-Ireland U21 titles in the last few years but we’re competing with them and that’s a big thing.”
Shanahan also declared himself satisfied with Waterford’s performance against Limerick in Thurles.
He added: “We would be very happy, bad first half, good second half. I think we created maybe five or six goal chances and took three, not bad.”
Waterford doubled their goal tally for the entire league campaign in the second half of Sunday’s tie alone and Shanahan reflected: “Certain fellas can get goals easier than others but it’s not a thing we worry about to be honest with you.
“If a fella gets an opportunity, we’re well capable but we don’t worry about it one bit. If we win a game by 10 points to nine, that will do us. It’s all about winning.”
And Shanahan rejected any suggestion Clare and Waterford will be playing within themselves on May 1, with the championship clash five weeks later.
Waterford do have the benefit of finding themselves in this situation 12 months ago, when they faced Cork in the Allianz League decider ahead of a Munster championship clash between the counties.
Waterford won both games and Shanahan said: “It’s a national title and we want to win every game we play.
“I know Davy Fitz and he’s in the same boat. There’s a nice trophy at the end of this and we have never been in back to back finals in Waterford. To be here with this team, creating history, is credit to the lads. Back in my day, with a good team we never did it.”
Meanwhile, Shanahan revealed that younger brother Maurice will undergo further tests later this week on the injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game with Limerick.
He explained: “I’ve seen it out there that it’s a hip injury, it’s a groin problem he has, to be honest. He’s being assessed by a specialist and we’ll know more by the weekend. He could have played if we pushed him but that’s why we have a panel.
“We learned that lesson not to play players unless they’re 100%.”
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