Maurice Shanahan: Last year’s experience will stand to young guns

It was one of the take-home images from Waterford’s championship win over Clare. Late on, Maurice Shanahan won a ball on the left wing in Thurles, broke upfield and glanced at the posts. Someone else was breaking right alongside him.

“Stop, for a second there I thought he was going to pass me out,” says Maurice of big brother Dan, Waterford selector and close companion as Maurice hit that late point.

“Fair dues to Dan, he’s still able to move. I threw up the ball to hit it and he was near enough to put his hand out to catch it.”

It wasn’t the most significant score Shanahan got that day. He struck for that goal in the opening minutes which set Waterford on their way: “Going into any game you’re looking to get an early touch, but in the Clare game when the ball broke I just pulled first-time and we got the goal.

“It gave me great confidence straight away, obviously. You’ve the bonus of a score, it boosts everybody, you’re delighted — but it’s all about the team for us, it always is.

“Once we get the win it doesn’t matter who gets the goals, how we get them, getting the win is the main thing.”

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Shanahan made a fair contribution to the Waterford effort — scoring 1-2, making scores, winning frees.

He says the team ethos rules, however.

“I thought I worked hard against Clare, but so did everybody else, the effort that was put in by the whole team was huge.

“That’s one thing Derek (McGrath) has been stressing to us all the time — that if you don’t work then you won’t be on the team.

“That’s in the back of your head all the time, to give everything when you’re on the field.

“It was certainly in my head going out the last day in Thurles and I’d be happy that I gave everything that I had while I was on the field. But we’re all working for the one goal.”

Despite Shanahan hitting the equalising point in the drawn league final with Clare, he was frustrated to only make cameo appearances in those games.

“In fairness, I was carrying a groin injury into both of those games so I wasn’t fully fit either. But it’s frustrating to be stuck on the sideline, you’re looking on and there are situations in the game where you’d be thinking, ‘If I was on...’

“Every player wants to start, obviously, and I’m no different. But we’re all well aware that the team comes first and the result is all that matters in the end. Derek and the lads have a tough job picking just 15 starters for Sunday but one thing you’ll notice is that we all back each other, whether you’re starting or not.”

Shanahan participated in the 2010 Munster final, but for a lot of his team-mates last year was a first provincial decider. He’s hoping that experience will stand to them this weekend.

“It was a novelty for a lot of the lads last year, but this summer we know what it’s about.

“It’s great to have that experience behind us so recently, because over the years it’s not as if Waterford have played in all that many Munster finals. You have to relish them and it’s great to be back there.

“We have so many young players, too, the likes of Shane (Bennett), Austin (Gleeson), Paddy (Curran), that it’ll stand to them later in their careers as well to have played in two senior Munster finals back to back when they’re still u21s — and it’s good for their U21 team too, obviously.

“It’s a great sign generally for Waterford hurling that there are so many youngsters coming through, and that they’re getting such good experience along the way. There’s definitely a buzz in Waterford because of the team, you can see the kids out with hurleys everywhere.

“Going into the Clare game that buzz was building, and the same now for the Munster final.

“We’re enjoying it without getting distracted or carried away by it — that’s where last year’s experience helps. And we’re working hard in training all the time.”

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