Dan Shanahan has no problem with people classing Waterford as "the fifth team in Munster" but admits the label is a motivating factor.
Waterford travel to face Division 1B opening day opponents Limerick in tomorrow’s Waterford Crystal Cup in Kilmallock (2pm), and selector Shanahan doesn’t mind if the perception is they’re a few rungs down the ladder from their opponents.
“We believe in the players we have. There are a couple of young fellas in the panel, but they’re there on merit. Ken McGrath was 16 or 17 when he started with the seniors and look the way it turned out.
“It’s definitely motivation, to be seen as the fifth team in Munster having been first or second, but we’re quietly going about our business and we don’t mind if we’re being seen as fifth in Munster behind the rest of the big boys.
“We’re working extremely hard like all county teams at the moment but we’re fairly positive. We can only work with what we have and who knows what the next three or four months holds.”
Shanahan senses pain in the players after last year’s disappointments when they pushed Munster winners Cork to a replay in the province then losing to Wexford in a qualifier.
“I think a lot of the players have been hurt from last year. We didn’t perform up to scratch but we went back training a few weeks earlier than last season and we’re not in too bad a shape for this time of year. There’s still a long way to go.
“Some of the lads have to look at themselves but, all I can say is we have 120% belief in the players and the players I know have 120% belief in the management.
“We’ve a good, little set-up and we had faith in each other. The management can only do so much and the players know it’s up to themselves to do what we instruct them to do.”
Limerick is one of three away games for Waterford in their new Division 1B abode, the other two being Offaly and Wexford. On paper, they look to be the more difficult games but Shanahan knows Waterford can’t afford to be lax in their home matches against Laois and Antrim.
“It’s a big factor that all those games are away and would you believe it was the same way last year. I don’t know what way they run it but we only have two games at home against this year. Our two home games against Laois and Antrim are going to be just as tricky.
“We’ve Limerick this weekend and again in three weeks’ time and they were outstanding last year including the All-Ireland semi-final. We know what we’re up against.”
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