A family congratulated a showered and changed Dan Shanahan following his magnificent cameo at Semple Stadium on Sunday. Dan was happy to oblige, sharing a quick chat, signing a jersey and posing for a photo.
“Oh, I can’t get Dan in,” said the snapper, possibly not au fait with the equipment in question. Reacting as quickly as he did out on the pitch, Shanahan lowered his mighty frame, relieving the mammy’s concerns. Photo taken, jersey signed, everyone happy.
That Shanahan played such an instrumental part in Waterford’s win was one of Sunday’s most heart-warming features. The former Hurler of the Year has had a difficult few months, losing his place in the starting team, but he was thrilled to play his part against Galway.
“I was disappointed I wasn’t brought on earlier but the lads that came on ahead of me obviously did their job so when I got my chance I said to myself I have to take it and I did.
“That’s not to say I’ll start the next day but if I can keep doing what I did today with 10 minutes to go, that’ll do me grand.”
Did Dan feel he had a point to prove? “I don’t. I don’t owe Waterford or anyone anything. This is my 13th year in inter-county hurling and I don’t think I owe anybody anything. I just do it for myself and my family and that’s all I care about.
“And the lads, the lads inside that dressing room are a big thing in my life. It isn’t about me or them, it’s all about us. We’ve been knocked this week – in our own county and in other counties, so we proved a point today. With 10 minutes to go, we were probably beaten but we came out and won by a point.”
Contrary to considerable media and public opinion, Shanahan doesn’t think he’s struggling for form.
“I can’t say what the selectors and the manager are thinking so I can only do what I can do, train hard, work hard and support the lads.
“If I’m not starting, I go round the dressing room and give the lads the best support that I can give them, especially the younger lads, Noel Connors, Maurice, Shane Casey, a few more of them – maybe they’ll learn something off me. We’ve a young team, a young panel, the minors won, the 21s won – they said hurling was dead in Waterford – ‘tisn’t dead yet…
“It’s hard to sit on the bench but I’m at that age now, where the game is getting faster and the hurling is faster. So if I can come on – if I start the next day, well and good. If I don’t, well and good, I’ll come on again.”
The Lismore clubman believes that the Deisemen can deliver another big performance in Croke Park on August 9th.
“Oh – there’s loads left in this Waterford tank, I can assure you of that. There’s loads left. The next day will be different. Kilkenny? The All-Ireland champions going for four-in-a-row, they’ll be red hot favourites.
“We won’t have any hang-ups anyway. We’ll be underdogs again, expected to get hammered again.”
Watching his younger brother Maurice enter the fray was a significant moment in Dan’s hurling career.
“It was more special for my mother and father than it was for me,” he added.
“He came on ahead of me and I wasn’t happy with that! But he’s a good young fella and they’d a good result two weeks ago; they’re out again Wednesday night so it’s very important for the youth. You have to bring them in some time.
“You can’t stick with the older lads, though in saying that, Tony Browne has been outstanding and a few more of the older lads have been excellent all year. We’re thereabouts but Kilkenny are going to be hard to beat in the semi-final.”
The self-belief within the group is enormous, Dan, The Munster Express contended.
“Without a doubt,” he replied.
“The self-belief in the whole panel is unbelievable, to be honest with you. We’ve been knocked – we came back after getting hammered last year in the All-Ireland and we’re still coming back and still coming back.
“If anyone else did it, they’d be all talking about it. We’ll go in the next day as underdogs again the next day and hopefully, lads – you never know.”