SP3S1PicDermot Keyes (DK): The comedown,
so to speak, from winning
the League appears to have been
very instant for the players, who
were moreorless straight back
to work with their clubs for the
fi rst two rounds of the Senior
Derek McGrath (DM): “As was
suggested beforehand, we weren’t the
kind of team that could just instantly
park the League win. We enjoyed the
Sunday and the Monday alright, but
the players, operating within their
own bubble, parked it from that point.
The start of the Club Championship
was probably welcome, albeit we
picked up a serious injury to Pauric
(Mahony) during it, but psychologically
and emotionally, I feel it was
good for the players because to continue
the run that they’d been in on
since February 14th, on a nearly week
by week basis, would have been very
diffi cult to sustain, so the break was
very welcome. We put in a good
week’s training in the build-up to
this Sunday and we’re really looking
forward to it now.
DK: Pauric’s injury is obviously a
devastating blow given how brilliantly
he’s performed and while
there’s no such thing as an opportune
time for a key player to sustain
an injury like this, I guess as a
manager you’d sooner have to face
up to moulding your team without
him three and a half weeks out from
a Championship match as opposed
to, say, three days beforehand?
DM: “That goes without question.
But this is particularly hard because
Pauric had done so much behind the
scenes himself to get in pristine condition
ahead of the National League.
And he’d stepped up to the plate in so
many ways, even from a vocal perspective
within the dressing room.
And the perception about him being
‘just’ a free taker has certainly been
swept away over the past year and a
half. He was putting his body on the
line in every match and he was directing
everything from that pivotal position
he occupied. There’s no point
dressing it up – he’s a massive loss,
but he’s a good strong young fella and
he’s got a good strong family behind
him and he’ll be okay.”
DK: Staying on the injury front,
there was a scare with Maurice
Shanahan after the Lismore/Cappoquin
match. How’s he shaping up
DM: “He’s got a badly bruised knee
and he has some ligament damage –
it’s what’s referred to as a slight shake
to the ligament. But he hasn’t done
anything, to be perfectly honest; it’s
50/50 at this stage, I suppose. He
did a bit of small bit of jogging last
Tuesday night but it’s going to be
touch and go…he probably won’t do
any contact work prior to the match.
If he’s right for the match, he’ll play
but if he’s not he won’t be available.
It’s a diffi cult one; it’s ‘bony bruising’,
it’s not a cruciate injury but it’s
not medial ligament damage either,
but it’s far from ideal. There’s a risk
factor in potentially starting Maurice
and possibly having to take him off
after a short period of time. His practising
of frees has been curtailed too.
We have plenty of options, don’t get
me wrong, but Maurice is an important
player for us and we want to give
him as much a chance as we can to
make it.”
DK: Contingency planning is something
managers at every level have
to incorporate into their strategies –
after all, most managers don’t have
the players they want to select at
their disposal most weekends…
DM: “Yeah. That’s true. Specifi c
to the free-taking element of things,
we’d have had Maurice as our back-up
free taker to Pauric, but it’s not as if
we’re thin on the ground within the
panel in terms of players regularly
taking frees at club level. We’re in a
‘valley’ period on that front when you
consider the likes of Stephen Bennett,
Shane Bennett, Patrick Curran, Jake
(Dillon), Jamie Barron – and I mean
this with the greatest of respect to the
lads, I think it’s much of a muchness.
I think the amount of speculation and
analysis over the frees and whether
someone misses one or not will have
to be dealt with psychologically, so
we’ll be trying to work on that as well;
that the body language of whoever is
taking the frees will be very strong.
Because there’s going to be a lot of
analysis on our free taking which is
only natural given that Pauric is out
of the equation for us, and that’s only
DK: Putting frees and injuries to
one side, it’s interesting that a lot of
the recent column inches devoted to
Sunday’s match have emphasised
what Cork need to put right from
the League Final, almost mirroring
what was written and broadcast
between last year’s drawn Munster
Championship match and the
replay. My reading of such pieces,
for what it’s worth, suggests an
emerging consensus that Cork will
regroup suffi ciently to come out on
top next weekend…
DM: “I read an article in the Examiner
last week which said ‘all’ Limerick
had to do was win two home
matches to win the Munster Championship,
and that seemed to keep us
out of the loop altogether in terms of
being part of such a conversation. But
I said this at the start of the year, so
I’m being consistent when it comes
to discussing the Championship in
such terms, when you take a step back
and think about the likes of Seamie
Harnedy, Alan Cadogan, Patrick
Horgan, Conor Lehane, Paudie Sullivan,
Pa Cronin, Luke O’Farrell and
Bill Cooper coming into a forward
line – and given Cork’s cycle, which
allowed them to be in an All-Ireland
Final two years ago and almost win
it, which allowed them to win the
Munster Championship last year –
my opinion is that their performance
graph is slightly further down the line
than ours is right now.
“That would lead me to say that the
bookies are probably right and I don’t
see that as being any kind of disrespect
towards us. And you always
have to allow for the susceptibility of
Waterford falling to Cork in a Championship
game, there’s an element
of that as well, but we’re trying to
change that perception. We’d eight
debutants in last year’s fi rst match,
and we’ll have two if not three players
making their Championship debuts
against Cork in the past two years
and that’s pretty signifi cant. Every
game is totally different and I know
it sounds like a very simple analogy,
but so much of it comes down to how
things go on the day. We’re working
very hard as a team and we think that
over the next few years, if not this
summer, that we’ll do something.”
DK: There’s been a lot, far too much
in my view, made of the Waterford
system, and talk of being ultradefensive
and all that. But, as Noel
Connors has pointed out more than
once, a hallmark of Brian Cody’s
success with Kilkenny has been how
hard the likes of Eoin Larkin have
worked inside their own half, but
when they’ve done it, it’s labelled
hard work and nothing else…
DM: “That does aggravate me a
little bit alright. As a management,
you tend to envisage scenarios in your
head and I can see, say we’re beaten
next Sunday, where The Sunday
Game will talk that night about the
‘failure’ of the system. Likewise, if
we win, I can see an analysis being
conducted in terms of what we’ll have
done well to bring about a win. As a
group, we’ve discussed in a consultative
way even going unconventional
the next day but the thing now is to
stick or twist…I do feel, in the next
couple of years that Waterford, while
we’ll probably not quite be back to the
fl amboyant days, that we’re going to
be a lot more open hurling team. It’s
part of a plan, but you’ve got to build
some security fi rst. And that’s where I
see Waterford going over the next few