“I sat down in the room for an hour or two when I got back to the hotel. I’ve never been hit by a car but it certainly feels as close as you can get to it… I’d love to come back in the future and have a go at Kilkenny and see could we learn. There’s always hope.”
– Davy Fitzgerald a few weeks after last year’s ultimate annihilation.
“I think the All-Ireland final day was a fantastic experience. The first 20 minutes we were grand and there was only a point or two in it but after that we let ourselves down completely. We played badly – you could say tactics but it was just ourselves. Normally when a team collapses it is a league game or a club game but that day we collapsed. And that’s not to take away from Kilkenny, they played superbly. But any other county would have done better than we did for the last 40 minutes, any other county would have played way better than us. That day we did fall down — we will learn from that…
[Fast forward to this year’s NHL win] “Davy made a point of not mentioning the All-Ireland before that game. It was just go out and play to win. We had a point to prove to ourselves because we let ourselves down big time. We went out and laid into them and just played hurling. There was no big tactic or secret, we just went out and played hurling and won it… You saw there with Tipperary [in the league final], if you put in the workrate anything could happen. It’s workrate, workrate, workrate.”
– Waterford joint-captain Stephen Molumphy on rebuilding and his belief that “yes” Kilkenny can be conquered
“The ‘bar’ thing is haywire, as ever. There is the usual top hurling counties in the country and that hasn’t changed, absolutely hasn’t changed. Waterford beat us in the league… The bar hasn’t moved – this mythical bar hasn’t moved since the start of the league suddenly. When we are really competitive we are in with a chance of winning matches. If we are the slightest bit off, if we are the slightest bit down, we are very beatable. That’s where we are. You don’t have to jump very high to get over this bar, I can you tell you that much.”
– Brian Cody speaking in April
“Waterford seem to be playing a more controlled game now, whereas I’d prefer to go out and play instinctively… definitely, if it got out that Kilkenny were all playing with 32-inch hurleys, then every team would be using them then.”
– Paul Flynn questions whether Waterford have changed for the better.
“That’s something Davy has instilled, that everyone is part of the team and contributes when they come on.”
– Dan Shanahan the other week on the importance of feeling important.
“Waterford supporters are brilliant and there’s no shadow of a doubt about that… but can I just say to give the lads a bit of a breather. Don’t put them under pressure, they are working very hard and I can promise the supporters that and they are working harder than anyone else in the country.”
– Davy pleads for patience in February.
“… Last year we did everything right, as far as I’m concerned, going into the game. We just came up against a fantastic team on their best day. To beat Kilkenny, we’d need 17-18 fellas playing very well, and they’d need a few not to play well. A good team beat us in the final – a very good team – but it could have been any other team against them in that game and the result would have been the same.”
– Dan The Man has no regrets about what happened before it all went off.
“The rivalry between the city and south Kilkenny is phenomenal, you could compare it to any soccer rivalry in England, though it’s good-natured. We’re listening to them for the last few years about their All-Irelands, and rightly so, but it was nice to give our own crowd something to shout about. We’re living alongside each other and we’ve been in their shadow for a long time.”
– John Mullane after winning the League final in 2007.
“What can you say? We got beaten by 23 points. We thought the preparation was right, we thought everything was good going in and then we got destroyed. We didn’t feel any different going in than we did when we played Tipp, we didn’t feel more nervous that day than any other day. We felt we were going to give it a right crack. Obviously, it fell apart then. Like, I couldn’t wait for the game but let’s be honest, I had a disaster. I was hoping to redeem it in the second half but I couldn’t. I was up centre-forward but things were gone at that stage. I thought starting off we were okay. They were coming at us in waves alright but we were doing okay. But then they just got on top of us and blew us off the pitch. Things were gone. I know myself I came out to take a free at one stage and I was lucky to hit the f**king thing. And I know a few of the lads nearly did something similar throughout the game. It was a nightmare really. “Kilkenny were brilliant and they are brilliant, don’t get me wrong. But we were terrible. We have to admit that and we did admit it. We were shocking. Like, if you go through the team from one to 15 in the first half, probably 13 of us were atrocious. And I think that’s why you have a lot of fellas coming back this year, they want to prove that that day wasn’t what we’re about. There’s more in us than that.”
– Ken McGrath telling the Sunday Tribune’s Malachy Clerkin last May that Waterford didn’t do themselves justice.
“All I know about favouritism [is that] I just know for certain that on any given day we could beat Waterford or Waterford could beat us. It’s about getting it right on the day. That’s the way it works.”
– Cody in advance of last year’s All-Ireland final when he described Waterford as “massive opposition”. On any given day, huh.
“Once we lost the Munster final against Tipperary, we have just one thing left on our minds and that was to win three games and bring back the Liam McCarthy to Waterford. We’ve won one against the odds here today and we have a semi-final against Kilkenny coming up. I know that people are going to look back at last September but I can assure you that we’ve only one thing in our minds and that’s to get back to an All-Ireland final and if it’s Kilkenny that stands in our way and that’s who we have to beat, we’ll so be it.”
– Waterford selector Peter Queally can’t wait for another crack.
“There’s loads left in the Waterford tank, I can assure you of that. Kilkenny are All-Ireland champions and going for four-in-a-row. They’ll be red-hot favourites. We won’t have any hang ups. We’ll be underdogs again. Everybody will expect us to be hammered again. We’re there or thereabouts. The self-belief in the panel is unbelievable. We came back after being hammered in the All-Ireland final last year. We’ll go in as underdogs the next and hopefully – you’d never know what might happen.”
– Shanahan senior insists Waterford won’t be fazed by what some would see as mission impossible.
“I know the resolve of this group as well as I know myself. They most definitely will bounce back. At the end of the day, it is only a game and yes while it’s a game we desperately wanted to win, it is not the end of the world. It will be a big challenge to pick ourselves up and returning in the coming year. But then that’s where our resolve and fighting spirit will be put to test. Whether it was stage fright or whatever, the fact is that we just froze on the day and Kilkenny didn’t waste the opportunity to capitalise on that. Give these fellows any kind of advantage and they’ll just blow you away. They are awesome. They are the best team Iíve encountered in 15 years playing senior inter-county hurling.”
– Tony Browne tries to fathom where it all went horribly wrong while paying credit where it was due in the corridors of Croke Park on the first Sunday of last September.
“People were saying that the hype was too much but Jesus, look, that’s what the whole thing is for at the end of it all. What are people going to do when their county gets to an All Ireland but enjoy the whole thing and get involved in it? You’re going to put flags out and paint different things and talk away about it until the cows come home. That’s what you’re playing the game for. Hindsight’s a great thing and people have said since the final that the lads got involved too much with the public and got too stressed out. But sure what else were we going to do? Live at home for three weeks? There’s no enjoyment in the game if you’re at that. You have to understand, we were waiting our whole lives to play an All Ireland final and up until the ball was thrown in, I enjoyed every minute of it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
– Ken says hype wasn’t to blame. Whether or which it’s not a problem this time around. However, were Waterford to win this weekend…