Waterford manager Sean Power was understandably jubilant at the final whistle last night, having seen his U21s power past Tipperary with a dominant second-half display.
Power said they’d refocused at half-time after a sluggish first half.
“We had a choice in the first half, and we could play better than that,” he said. “We were a bit slow on the off, which is something we have to work on, but we had a little chat at half-time and we came out with all guns blazing in the second half.
“After half-time we got a few good scores as well, which always spurs on a team, and when you have a centre-back who kind of lords it into the game and gets some long-range points, it lifts everybody.
“We were looking for a response and we got it.”
Austin Gleeson, the centre-back in question, gave an outstanding display, and Power credited him for driving his teammates on: “Great, yeah, it takes a good centre-back to do what he needs to do. He drove the guys around him as well.
“When he’s not on the ball, even, the support and energy that he gives to the team is majestic. We can’t ask any more from the anchor of our defence.” The manager also praised his team for taking chances, such as Stephen Bennett’s audacious flick to set up Peter Hogan’s goal.
“We like trying things, this group of players was certainly never afraid of trying things and playing off the cuff,” said Power.
“Sometimes they work, but sometimes they don’t, and when they don’t you can look stupid. Thankfully they worked tonight, and we got good scores out of it.
“There was pressure, of course, after the performance we put in against Clare in the semi-final, but that also drives you on, and it was great to have the support we did tonight. We had been asking during the week for the Waterford public to come out and support this group of players, and they did that, in fairness, our supporters were very good — I’d thank them for that.
“ Credit Tipperary too, they put in a great display and I’d say it was an enjoyable game to watch, a good game of hurling.”
Waterford eyes now turn to the All-Ireland series.
“That’ll be our focus,” said Power. “We’ll be up against the Ulster champions. Obviously we weren’t looking past this evening, that was our focus, but now we’ll start thinking and planning for the All-Ireland semi-final.”
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