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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Austin Gleeson: “Good buzz and good atmosphere" since Davy's arrival in Waterford.
# Davy direction
Austin Gleeson: Davy's new direction, Cahill's legacy, and Ballygunner brilliance
The return date for inter-county training arrived last week and the new Waterford manager has taken the opportunity to emphasise some early pointers.

THE DIRECTION DAVY Fitzgerald wants to take the Waterford hurlers is already visible on the training field, according to Austin Gleeson.

The return date for inter-county training arrived last week and the new Waterford manager has already taken the opportunity to emphasise some early pointers.

“Davy is after meeting everyone once if not twice over the last number of weeks and going through certain things from previous years and what he wants next year.

“He’s after putting a hell of a lot of time into Waterford since he got the appointment. We’re extremely excited.

“You can see after only four or five sessions on the field where he wants us to go and how hard he wants us to work but we’ll have an extremely good laugh along the way. We were training last night and there were fellas out on their feet and 40 seconds later, they’re laughing. You need to have the buzz with the hard work.

“There’s a good buzz and a good atmosphere and a good few new young lads in there as well. A few of them got a shock with the step up but they’re taking to it now like a duck to water.

“The days we’re not training or in the gym, we’ve to relax and zone out of hurling. That’s something that maybe a few of us have struggled with over the last few years; in our days off we’re still hurling-focused.

“The big thing is to get out of that focus and concentrate on something else. They’re the two key messages: have the fun as well as the hardship but also zone out as much as we can,” Gleeson, speaking at the unveiling of eir as a new official sponsor of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, added.

eir-senior-hurling-championship-sponsorship-announcement David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE Austin Gleeson was speaking at the unveiling of eir as a new official sponsor of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

It’s a good place to be but it hasn’t always been fun for the 2016 Hurler of the Year.

“If you’re not enjoying it, it’s a horrible place to be. There were a few stages of my career over the last nine years where I wasn’t enjoying it and it wasn’t a nice place to be.

“You’re in the limelight because you’re playing and when you know you’re in the limelight and you’re not enjoying it, it’s hard because you know you’re not playing yourself, you might be missing that bit of confidence or something like that.”

But Gleeson insists his experience under Liam Cahill, who has departed to manage Tipperary, was a positive one despite their championship disappointment last summer.

“We had a good relationship. It might look from the outside that maybe we didn’t but we did. He did a lot for me personally and on the field. He gave everything for Waterford and that’s all we could have asked. He’s gone back to his native Tipperary which I can’t begrudge at all. If Waterford came knocking on my door it’d be the same. It was an enjoyable few years with him.”

Gleeson, who has played all over for Waterford, stated his preferred position was wing- or centre-forward: “The way the game has gone you can do both, defend or attack, from there.”

As well as bedding down a position, Gleeson wants to work on ensuring he gets 70 minutes without any red cards, such as those against Wexford in the League and Cork in the Championship this year.

Does his reputation go before him?

“I don’t really believe in that really because I put myself in those positions. It’s nothing to do with anyone else really. It’s my own fault and that’s the way it is. In previous years there’s been situations where I have held my cool and there’s been other times when I haven’t. That’s when I let myself down and let the lads down and let the management down.

“It’s something I’ve been working on a good bit over the last few years but last year I got into those stupid situations myself again. I wouldn’t really look into it. Maybe there’s a bit of it but at the end of the day, it’s my own fault for even giving that reputation out.

“I won’t be changing the way I play on the edge. It’d take away a lot from my game. I’d need to be fired up a bit to get myself going. If I can just get rid of the stupid incidents I will be a lot better myself. It’s something I need to work on personally. I should have learned a lot more the last year or two to deal with stuff like that so hopefully there’s no more of those incidents this year.”

Gleeson is backing his countymen Ballygunner to get the job done with back-to-back Munster hurling titles against Ballyea on Saturday.

“I think the game against Na Piarsaigh was the big one for Ballygunner. Ballyea are a top-class team but I think Na Piarsaigh and Ballygunner seem to be the two teams that were on form in Munster.

“I thought that might have been the Munster final. The intensity in that game and the hitting was like an inter-county game so I fancy Ballygunner to get over the line at the weekend.”

What’s it like facing them on the field?

“It’s daunting. They’re going for 10 in a row next year in Waterford so it’s a big thing for us and every team to try to come up with a way of beating them. They’re physically strong, they’re mentally strong, they’re athletically strong, and they’ve some of the best hurlers in the county at the moment.

“The way they play, their game plan, they’re doing it so long now it’s second nature to them. They don’t ever move from plan A really. They need a plan B every so often but they never panic, whether they’re two points up or two points down, they just stick to the process.

“If they need to get physical, they can get physical. If they need to just play hurling they can play hurling. They’ve so many avenues, which is unreal for them, and you just have to admire what they’re doing.”

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