Derek McGrath cut a satisfied figure. The Munster final hammering flushed out of their system and a second successive All-Ireland semi-final appearance locked down. Was he to have looked for anything else, you’d nearly be accusing him of being greedy.
“If there was a hint of a psychological scar from the beating they received a couple of weeks ago, it certainly wasn’t evident there. That’s the most pleasing part of it,” said the Waterford manager.
And McGrath, if he’s being honest, didn’t expect any other sort of reaction.
“We were disconsolate after the Munster final — it was evident in our body language. I looked back at it, and our body language with 15 minutes to go was extremely negative on the line.
“Coming out afterwards to face the cameras, it was even more harrowing viewing, but you’re managing your own county, these fellas are playing for their own county. There’s a feeling there. It felt horrible, horrible to the lads, but a bit of perspective is needed too. I don’t think Waterford have been to consecutive All-Ireland semi-finals in six years, so we need to stand back at times.
“We’re there and we’re there on absolute merit. We’ve a massive challenge ahead of us because Kilkenny have dominated every team so far, but I’m telling you, we’re there, and we’re there to take on Kilkenny.”
Overcoming the Munster final annihilation was one matter, but how did McGrath feel his players dealt with the glee from sections of the hurling public towards the successful dismantling of their system by Tipperary.
“I was asked to speak to the Rotary Club in Waterford a few months ago and I read My Road to Rotary by Paul Harris. There’s a great quote in it: ‘In the clashes between ignorance and intelligence, ignorance is the aggressor’. That’s the way I’d look at it.
“I’d replace intelligence with truth, I’m not saying we’re intelligent, but that’s how we feel about [our system]. We’re there to be shot down because of that but there was a feeling of guns loaded, ready to go, but it is what it is.
“We’re in consecutive semi-finals and we’re pleased, but we’re not smug. The day we’re smug is the day we’ll be in bother.”
Kilkenny again provide the final roadblock to September and the Waterford boss was in no doubt that yesterday’s performance would not take them past Brian Cody’s side.
“No, it wouldn’t but we know that and we’re aware of that.
“The general perception last year, not our perception, was that with 61 minutes gone in the All-Ireland semi-final, there were two points in it and that we never went for the game.
“The balance tips in favour of that type of analysis.
“We’ll have to improve all over the field to beat Kilkenny but I tell you, it’s a very, very interesting challenge and one that we’re really relishing and looking forward to because it’s a great place to be, two years in a row, from where we’ve come.
“We’re not satisfied with it or downplaying the significance of the Kilkenny game but we’re very satisfied with today’s work.”
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