Derek McGrath reckons the five-day training camp at Fota in preparation for yesterday’s Munster semi-final played a major role in their progression to a second successive provincial decider.
In the wake of the league final defeat to Clare last month, McGrath took his squad to East Cork for five days of intense training and the Waterford manager was delighted that the rewards had been reaped in avenging that league final loss.
“Everyone pushed each other like never before. It’s extremely satisfying that a group of players take five days off work in an amateur capacity and work to the bone.
“I look at Brick Walsh with three young kids under four and being down in Fota for five days, putting their lives on hold.
“To be able to produce a performance on the back of that is extremely satisfying,” said McGrath.
McGrath made no attempt to hide the fact they had worked hard on channelling the hurt stemming from the league final.
There was a revenge mission element to this Waterford performance.
“Hurt or disappointment stagnates you; you don’t move on. We tried to change the bit of hurt to a bit of anger but not to the point where it becomes hate. We let the anger flow into the performance. It’s all very well saying that like a wordsmith but that’s what materialised.
“We let them take over in terms of where they wanted to go with it, not how they wanted to play, but their actual motivation. At half-time, we just made a promise to each other to give 40 minutes of absolute endeavour to try and get over the line. I’m thrilled for the lads. They’ve put some effort into it over the last four weeks given the nature of losing the league.”
The Waterford boss continued: “The mental challenge was to try and deal with an opposition that had a forward line of John Conlon, Tony Kelly, Shane O’Donnell, Darrach Honan and Conor McGrath.
“It’s one of the best forward lines in the country and to be able to deal with that in the manner that we did was extremely pleasing.
“Barry Coughlan has been an unsung hero for us for the last two years, almost not getting the credit he deserves because Tadhg [De Burca] is sitting in front of him, but I’m delighted that he had a brilliant dispossession when someone was coming in on goal.”
Crucial too was the contribution of Austin Gleeson. McGrath was adamant this was the afternoon he announced himself as a senior inter- county hurler.
“I push him hard. I had him in class in school and I probably use the old headmaster approach.
“He is at his best when he is angry and then it just flows from him so he doesn’t need much instruction.
“Go back to the ball that he bounced off the ground where he had an overlap, he had Kevin Moran off his side. Instead, he just bounced it and it was over the bar in one flash.
“He is a brilliant talent. We’re encouraging him to learn but he’ll learn from mistakes. It might be costly sometimes but today was his day, definitely.”
The Déise boss said it was important to return to the Munster final so, if nothing else, to achieve a level of consistency.
“We’ve captured a league title, we’ve been beaten in a league final this year, now we’ve a prize at stake on the 10th of July so I’m extremely delighted with the chance to play Tipperary or Limerick in the Munster final.”
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