Waterford selector Dan Shanahan insists the team have made considerable progress in 2015 but has targeted a 20% improvement next season.
The Déise claimed nine wins out of 12 competitive games, lifted their third league title in May and reached the final four for the first time since 2011.
“We were in a semi-final now, this time last year we were watching a semi-final. I won’t say we were in bonus territory because we wanted to come up and win.
“We have been winning all year and we wanted to get up there and win. We are disappointed. The players are disappointed and the supporters are disappointed.
“I have to give the supporters credit because we are back on the road again. There was only around 100 people at the first league game against Limerick. There was a massive crowd there at Croke Park on Sunday.
“Our lads have got them off their seats and brought them back up to the matches again which is good. We won the league, beaten in a Munster final and beaten in an All-Ireland semi final. It’s hard to take but that’s sport.”
Shanahan admitted that they paid dearly for uncharacteristic errors as Kilkenny inflicted a ninth semi-final loss on them since 1998.
“We probably made one or two mistakes, mistakes that we haven’t been making all year and we got punished. I would have to give credit to Kilkenny. They are an awesome team.
“With the fellas that retired, to keep coming back every year is phenomenal. We went out there to do our best, things didn’t go right for us and that’s the way it goes.
“But we just got punished for one or two silly things.
Kilkenny will punish you, with other teams you can get away with it but we didn’t get away with it.”
He believes Waterford must raise the bar in 2016 to compete for All Ireland honours once more.
“We will have to sit back, look at it and discuss it as a management team and see where we can improve for next year. For us next year, we have to improve by 20%. That’s going to be a big ask.”
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