De La Salle manager Derek McGrath says his club’s third Waterford hurling title is the perfect response to critics within the county.
During the year they had ‘3-3-1’ sewn onto their training tops as a motivational tool to mark their season’s targets — a third Waterford title, a third Munster club title and a first All-Ireland club title. It was criticised as arrogant by some Waterford observers, but McGrath said it was simply “setting out a target”.
“Without being pointed towards anyone, we’re happy that worked out. It was aspirational, like someone setting out a target in their workplace or academically, pointing out what they wanted to achieve.
“We set the target for ourselves and we achieved it, it’s there and we can have a cut now at the Munster championship. We’d be hopeful that the shackles will come off now and we can hurl with more freedom. We have less to lose now because we’ve won the county championship.”
The big win over Dungarvan was satisfying because they had to cope with the favourites tag.
“I wouldn’t say it was sweeter, necessarily, but it was hugely significant for us. We’d have felt if our discipline had been better over the years we might have won more titles, so it was good to win another one.
“The first one is always going to be huge just in terms of getting over the line, while we were outsiders for the second one. By contrast, we were hot favourites last weekend and having to deliver under that pressure means the win was very satisfying.”
He also paid tribute to an up and coming Dungarvan side whose starting team had an average age of 20.8.
“I’d be in touch with what’s going on in terms of underage teams in Waterford and you couldn’t ignore how well Dungarvan are doing in that regard.
“On Sunday they had three minors on the team, Ryan Donnelly, Kevin Daly and Cathal Curran and that experience will stand to them. Patrick Curran is only 16 and he’ll be part of that team soon, he’s very talented.
“It might have looked like there was a big gap between the two teams on Sunday but you could see that closing.
“It’s a fair comparison to make with, say, our Féile team of 1999. We won U16, minor and U21 with that team. Dungarvan will draw on that underage success soon.”
De La Salle will take on the Clare champions in their Munster club fixture. A tall order, says McGrath.
“I don’t know many Waterford teams who’ve gone down to win in Ennis.
“This year our U21s were well beaten down there by Clare, and so were Tipperary in the Munster final in that level. The experience we have should help us, but it’s 50-50.”
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