Waterford 1-35 Offaly 0-14
Derek McGrath tells us he pays no heed to criticism of his Waterford team. It was next to impossible, though, to drown out the chorus of detractors following their no-show against Cork.
Within the county, a fair amount of flak was directed at management.
Angering the locals was how a team could be so flat given they had been afforded eight weeks of uninterrupted preparation leading into the fixture.
Other issues which had caused widespread vexation was the peripheral positioning of Austin Gleeson, the shape Waterford took on the afternoon of their Munster championship exit and failure to prevent young Mark Coleman from collecting a number of Anthony Nash restarts.
The Déise manager, following Saturday’s rather futile get-back-up-on-the-horse exercise, admitted to being a “little bit hurt” by what was said about his group over the past fortnight.
“I got a text from someone saying, ‘F the begrudgers’, so I presume there must have been a bit of criticism out there,” he remarked.
“When you are up there to be shot at, you have to accept it and say, maybe, there is merit in some of it. But the day of bogging yourself down about what people say about you — we try and move on and do our actual best for the team.
The players are the same. Little bit hurt, little bit overly sensitive to some of it. But we parked it very, very fast.”
And he swears there was no attempt by management or players to harness public scorn in advance of this 24-point massacre. This ‘them against us’ malarkey is simply not McGrath’s style.
“The day of siege mentality on what people are saying, that’s gone. That’s a mentality we are trying to stay clear of. We know what we have in terms of the honesty of the group and the leaders within the group.
“It’s a fickle world. My mother says empty vessels make the most noise. Well, Shakespeare said it, not my mother, but she quotes Shakespeare!
A plan interrupted by noise from the outside is not a plan at all. We just need to stick to the course and realise that we have a good team — I’ve been saying it for three years.”
The copybook was almost unblemished on Saturday. There were few holes, if any at all, to pick at.
Tadhg de Búrca, having had Shane Kingston for company in Thurles, was back in the sweeper role here.
Darragh Fives was also idle in the Déise rearguard as the hosts operated with two sweepers — Emmet Nolan and Paddy Murphy took up arms directly in front of Maurice Shanahan and Shane Bennett.
And having struggled to unlock this crowded Offaly defence during the opening 20 minutes — the scoreboard read 0-6 all by this juncture — management opted to push Fives up to midfield, with Kevin Moran being redeployed further forward.
Michael Brick Walsh, Gleeson (0-2), Pauric Mahony (0-3, 0-2 frees), Shanahan and de Búrca all contributed during a run of eight without reply and when Shane Bennett latched onto a booming Stephen O’Keeffe puckout two minutes from half-time to register the sole major of the contest, it was game over.
Offaly, shy on bodies in front of O’Keeffe’s goal, were let down by their final delivery, the pass coming from midfield being hit to a spare Waterford defender on numerous occasions.
They trailed 1-18 to 0-8 at the break and managed only six points with the wind behind them upon the resumption. Most in the 4,159 crowd wore a bored expression throughout the glorified procession that was the second period.
“If we are beaten next Saturday evening, people will say this didn’t do us much use,” McGrath continued. “We felt this is exactly what we needed, it was a confidence builder in terms of how we played and what we did on the field.
If you do the stats for the last three years, we’ve never given any team a pummelling. We’ve always left teams in it, so to be able to keep the foot on the throat was very pleasing.
“The complete overreaction to losing the match against Cork was something that the players and the management have had to live with for the last two weeks.
That can seep its way through to a less mentally resolute team than this team. I’m just glad that didn’t happen.”
Scorers for Waterford:
Pauric Mahony (0-11, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ’65); A Gleeson (0-6); P Curran (0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ’65); S Bennett (1-0); K Moran, D Fives, J Barron, M Shanahan, C Dunford (0-2 each); J Dillon, T De Búrca, T Ryan, M Walsh (0-1 each).
Scorers for Offaly:
S Dooley (0-5, 0-5 frees); J Bergin (0-3, 0-2 frees); S Kinsella, B Conneely, E Nolan, O Kelly, J Mulrooney, P Guinan (0-1 each).
S O’Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, S Fives; T de Búrca, C Gleeson, Philip Mahony; J Barron, K Walsh; M Walsh, A Gleeson, Pauric Mahony; S Bennett, M Shanahan, D Fives.
J Dillon for Shanahan, C Dunford for Walsh (both 49); S Daniels for Moran (52, inj); T Ryan for S Bennett (55); P Curran for Pauric Mahony (60).
J Dempsey; B Conneely, D Shortt, P Camon; S Gardiner, A Treacy, D King; S Ryan, J Bergin; P Murphy, S Kinsella, E Nolan; J Mulrooney, S Dooley, O Kelly.
E Grogan for Treacy, S Cleary for Dooley (inj) (both HT); M Cleary for Nolan; P Geraghty for Kinsella (both 54); P Guinan for Murphy (58).
A Kelly (Galway).
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