Derek McGrath’s Waterford side finally got some points on the board this past weekend with a league win over struggling Cork. The victory came as a relief to those in the south-east and Austin Gleeson was particularly delighted to get off the mark.
While it’s been no secret that Derek McGrath placed little emphasis on the league, there was a slight worry brewing at the manner of these defeats.
Of course, when Waterford lose, one man seems to come in for more analysis than others – Austin Gleeson.
In Waterford’s second league defeat to Tipperary, Gleeson was immense at centre-back. Unfortunately ‘Aussie’ picked up a quad injury in the second half and was forced off, which is the reason many pointed to for the late Waterford collapse.
When the league returned two weeks later however, Gleeson found himself substituted at half-time after a below-par first half.
With Waterford claiming their first two points this weekend, Austin Gleeson delivered yet another solid performance.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the 2016 Hurler of the Year displayed what could be described as relief.
“Yeah, look it’s a weird one because we are going out to win every game we play. It looks like from the outside that we are not giving it our all. We actually are.”
Speaking about how the beaten All-Ireland finalists found themselves losing three in a row to kick off 2018, Gleeson added:
“There was a comment passed by one of the lads last week that maybe we were trying too hard, that nothing is coming off for us and everything is just not falling in place for us but we have to stick to the process and get fitter for the summer.
“When the ball is hopping, hopefully we can dictate something during the games. There’s a new championship structure and we don’t know whether we are playing our home games at home or away yet so we are leaving that to the county board and management; we are ploughing away and working hard and we just want to see how it goes.”
Perhaps the only member of the Waterford set-up who comes in for more unnecessary criticism than Gleeson is his boss, Derek McGrath.
With Waterford’s much-discussed style of play, McGrath often faces a backlash from supporters within his own county. Of course, many of those were unhappy with the manager due to the recent league performances.
Waterford’s win over Cork makes it highly likely that they will face off with the Rebels once again in a relegation play-off.
The Déise will be hopeful of the result repeating itself should this fixture arise.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena