Asking Kevin Moran to compare one 21-point provincial final defeat with another to the same county is understandably a question most hurlers wouldn’t dream of answering.
However, soon to be a father for the first time, the Waterford captain is in a philosophical mood even if the wounds from Sunday’s anguish against Tipperary are still fresh.
“To be honest with you, I think 2011 was worse because conditions were perfect. We were under the cosh from the first minute. If we look back at the first half the other day, I don’t think it was a systems failure or a total disaster of a performance.
“I think they took a goal that shouldn’t have happened. We had an opportunity of a goal that didn’t happen and we missed chances, so we could have gone in four or five points up.
“In the second half, yes, it was an absolute onslaught and it was such hard conditions, the rain was coming and there was a huge downfield wind. Even when we got inside to win the ball and try and score it was tricky. That’s what I’m clinging on hope to anyway. I think we have the right guys there in the dressing room and around the team to pick ourselves back up and get a performance Sunday week.”
Moran does take umbrage at hearing suggestions since Sunday that Tipperary’s win was a victory for hurling against the sweeper system utilised by Waterford.
“I try and distance myself since the match from things like that. I don’t know how that could be a victory for hurling when a team is hammered like that and a team that has come from where it has been over the last number of years to being quite competitive and bringing some exceptional young hurlers onto the team. I wouldn’t agree with it.”
Talk of a “system failure” has also irked him. “We let the runners off. It was our fault, we didn’t play to the way we had been playing the last while and basically that’s what cost us.”
The De La Salle man continued: “People have given us this label of ‘the sweeper system’ and things like that but we don’t usually play with a sweeper system. We just try and feed back and pack the spaces and protect our defenders. It just didn’t happen on Sunday for some reason and they caught us out four or five times.
“They were sucker-punches each time and it was strange. It’s something we just have to park and learn from. Conceding goals is something that we’re conscious of not doing and when five go in on one day you’re scratching your head and wondering ‘what is going on?’”
In a way, Moran argues there will be more learnt from Sunday’s loss because of the manner of it. Had they gone down to Tipp by a relatively small margin for the second successive Munster final, they mightn’t be any the wiser.
“If we had been beaten by three or four points like we were in the Munster final last year would we have learned as much? I don’t know. I could come back to you in a month’s time and tell you we learned a lot from the Tipperary defeat. Obviously, the magnitude of the defeat is more disappointing, nearly embarrassing for the players, the backroom team, family, and friends because people just didn’t see it coming.”
Ensuring now Sunday’s performance doesn’t shape their season is the motivation as they began preparations last night ahead of the All- Ireland quarter-final.
“That’s the big challenge. We can’t let it define our season. It’s a huge bump on the roads — there’s no point in dressing it up any other way. The U21s have a match to look forward to (tonight) and I’d love that. It is a chance to get it out of their system and luckily enough we don’t have to wait another six or nine months for another championship game. We’re still in the All-Ireland series and the biggest prize is still on offer there.”
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