Waterford star, Patrick Curran is set for a big summer in the Déise jersey this year, and their championship campaign throws in this Sunday with the Munster SHC semi-final against Cork in Thurles.
Curran is regarded as one of the game’s brightest emerging talents certainly within his own county and beyond. He has showcased his brilliance on a national level since his underage days with Waterford, where he has picked up All Ireland minor and under-21 medals, scoring 1-7 and 1-9 in those finals respectively, while being named man of the match in both. He was joint-captain of last year’s victorious under-21 side and is still underage this year.
The Dungarvan clubman has developed quite the nack of collecting the man of the match award in every All Ireland final he plays in. For his secondary school, Dungarvan CBS, he won the award when they won the ‘B’ All Ireland final, and as part of a winning college amalgamation team, he was man of the match in the Croke Cup final in the same year. Not a bad habit for any player to pick up.
The transition from underage star to stamping your authority on the senior stage of inter-county hurling is something yet to be fully mastered by Curran. However, it is clearly only a matter of time before this comes to fruition, as since his introduction to the set-up, he has shown flashes of his raw excellence for Derek McGrath’s side.
Speaking to the GAA.ie, the 21-year-old acknowledged the process of breaking into the stardom he is so accustomed to underage at senior level is not straightforward:
“At times you find it very tough. Physically it’s very demanding.
“You’re gyming so much and you’re kind of trying to get the best out of yourself at the same time and you’re thinking it might have been too much – ‘am I fresh coming into games?’
“It’s not easy, but I suppose just to persist with it when it’s not going the way you think it can for you. I think that’s a massive thing, you know.
“When you’re coming on against Kilkenny there and you’re getting hit with challenges. You have to put time into it. It’s about getting the balance right,” Curran openly admitted.
He feels as though, although the gym work and strength and conditioning programmes are essential to succeed at this level to meet the physical requirements, a high skill level, which Curran himself has in abundance, will always shine through:
“I always think that it will be the skill that will be the difference in winning and losing, rather than the physical strength. They all have the part to play but I think that the skill is the most important thing.”
Ahead of the Cork game this weekend, the corner-forward spoke to Pundit Arena. He is excited to get Waterford’s 2017 up and running. They are the last team left to play their first championship game.
On this weekend’s opposition, having studied in UCC for one year before transferring to St. Pat’s in Dublin, Curran knows better than most the threat that the Rebels pose, especially after their thrilling win over All Ireland champions, Tipperary, the last day out at the quarter-final stage.
Was he surprised to see the underdogs, Kieran Kingston’s side, come through against Tipp so impressively?
“I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. That Cork team have a lot of experience and they have a few younger lads now aswell who have been really good underage.
“You have that mix of experience and the younger lads coming in are just as good as them, so no I wasn’t surprised at all.”
While almost everybody would have been expecting a semi-final clash with the Premier when the draw was made, preparations within the Déise camp haven’t changed accordingly, says Curran:
“We haven’t been focussing on Cork the last few weeks at all. We’ve just been focussing on ourselves. This Cork team will take beating.
“I suppose, we’re just trying to train harder, because last year what we did wasn’t good enough in over way. So, we have to learn, and learn fast.”
Hopefully for Waterford’s sake they have their learning done by this Sunday at 4 p.m.