Waterford manager Derek McGrath was not short in praise for his players after the game. Having lost to Cork in the Munster championship back in June, Waterford managed to reverse the result in Croke Park.
Speaking after the game, McGrath reflected on the previous game against Cork and identified “passion” as the key difference between the result and the 0-23 to 1-15 scoreline that appeared in Thurles back on June 18th;
“The flatness that was evident on the 18th of June, we just made a promise to ourselves that that wouldn’t be evident today.
“There would be a good level of aggression and the approach would be, we were going to show a good bit of courage and perseverance and be up to the pitch of it.
“We brought a level of passion that we didn’t bring the last day.”
With passion been identified as the overall difference in the collective team performance, McGrath also spoke about the personnel changes that he made from a management perspective;
“I think there was a significant difference in the match-ups. Noel (Connors) would have a very good record on Patrick Horgan but we felt (Alan) Cadogan needed to be taken down. I think we did relatively well on Conor Lehane as well.”
McGrath was quick to not get carried away ahead of the All-Ireland final with Galway. It’s Waterford’s first All-Ireland final since 2008. That day Waterford fell to arguably the most complete hurling performance ever seen, and now the Déise face a team that have never beaten them in the hurling championship.
He spoke of what the game will mean to the people of Waterford;
“I think we are going to try and get the balance right between embracing it and cocooning ourselves away”.
“The county needed some sort of uplifting surge. This will absolutely give everyone a pep in their step”.
Derek McGrath now leads Waterford into an All-Ireland final. After back-to-back semi-final losses in 2015 and 2016, Waterford have now gone one step further and will play in Croke Park on the first Sunday in September.
It will be the first ever time that Galway and Waterford will face off in an All-Ireland final. Waterford have never lost to Galway in the hurling championship and McGrath will be hoping that history repeats itself.
You can hear more from McGrath’s on The 16th Man podcast.