Men of Steel

Waterford: 2016 Munster Senior Hurling Championship Finalists.

Waterford: 2016 Munster Senior Hurling Championship Finalists.

“I believe one of the big lessons of sports for dedicated individuals and teams is that it shows us how hard work, and I mean hard work, does pay dividends. The dividend is not necessarily in outscoring an opponent. The guaranteed dividend is the complete peace of mind gained in knowing you did everything within your power, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to bring forth your full potential. I see the same self-satisfaction occurring in every area of our lives when we strive mightily to do our best, whether it’s working in a business or community or raising a family. The great satisfaction that comes from doing your best is the guaranteed dividend.” - Coach John Wooden

Four Sundays on from League Final heartache, with the emotion of that defeat well trodden out of well-worked Deise limbs, Waterford once again found themselves six points ahead of Clare at Semple Stadium.
“Hurt or disappointment stagnates you,” said a proud Derek McGrath in the wake of Sunday’s seven-point Munster semi-final win over the League champions.
“You don’t move on. We tried to change the bit of hurt to a bit of anger but not to the point where it becomes hate. We let the anger flow into the performance. It’s all very well saying that like a wordsmith but that’s what materialised. We let them take over in terms of where they wanted to go with it, not how they wanted to play, but their actual motivation.”
Though aided somewhat by some wayward Clare shooting, Waterford shot two less wides over the 70 minutes, got the game’s only goal and made more of the scoring opportunities that came their way.
Better team? No question after Sunday’s commanding 1-21 to 0-17 win over the League champions, largely secured thanks to an, at times, superlative second half performance. And bear in mind, Waterford led from right from the off in Thurles. Now that’s impressive.
Yet when Clare mounted a mini-revival as the 55th minute elapsed, during a period in which the Deisemen hadn’t scored for 10 minutes, up stepped man of the match Austin Gleeson to cut a magnificent point from almost 45 yards out.
Three minutes later, captain Kevin Moran, sweeping around the paddock like a time conscious contractor hoovering silage, bisected the Killinan End uprights.
Fists were pumping and chests in white and blue shirts were puffed out. They led by six again with 12 minutes remaining, and there’d be no last minute drama in the third part of this trilogy. Waterford’s turn to shine in the Semple sun.
And they worked so hard to earn their victory, living up to John Wooden’s mission statement – doing their best, guaranteeing that dividend – while, it should be noted, defending brilliantly yet again.
“At half-time, we just made a promise to each other to give 40 minutes of absolute endeavour to try and get over the line,” added Derek McGrath. “Thrilled for the lads. They’ve put some effort into it over the last four weeks given the nature of losing the League.”
So Waterford are now the team to beat in this Championship, John Mullane contended on Radio One, a week before Kilkenny open their defence of the MacCarthy Cup. A bold, confident assertion, but certainly not without some credence given Waterford’s excellent form since the turn of the year. But there’s miles to go yet before we can start dreaming.
for more coverage on the Munster Semi Final see the full edition.

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