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Hours of gym work paying off for Waterford as a stronger Déise unit prepare for league final

Derek McGrath’s side face Clare in Sunday’s decider.

Philip Mahony and Austin Gleeson celebrate after the win over Tipp.
Philip Mahony and Austin Gleeson celebrate after the win over Tipp.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

WATERFORD SELECTOR DAN Shanahan says a winter of hard gym work is paying off for the Déise as they prepare for Sunday’s Allianz League hurling final against Clare.

Derek McGrath’s side are seeking back-to-back titles after advancing through from Division 1A with three wins from five outings before defeating Limerick in the semi-final.

And Shanahan believes an added emphasis on physical preparation during the off-season has made a huge difference over the course of the campaign.

“The one thing we have installed as management is that we’re going out there to play a game, we give it 110%,” he said. “If you’ve noticed, and most people have, that our lads have gotten stronger since last year even.

“The younger lads have physically gotten stronger than last year and that’s down to the physical training and our lads have their plans for two years.

“We’re a bit behind other teams at the moment but the lads are working hard with their gym programmes and on the field.”

Austin Gleeson revealed the Waterford players had already embarked on gym programmes back in October in a bid to bulk up ahead of 2016.

Recalling last year’s semi-final defeat to Kilkenny, Gleeson admitted Waterford were bullied physically during a revealing 70 minutes at GAA HQ.

But Shanahan now insists the players are better equipped than ever to contend with the added physicality of the game.

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Dan Shanahan Dan Shanahan. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The games we played in the league teams came out and maybe parked and put someone on our sweeper or something like that,” he continued.

“One or two teams may have changed their game-plan for us rather than us doing it for them and it did upset us for a while but that’s history, we’re in another league final and we’re there next Sunday in with a chance as well.”

With the championship around the corner, the serious business is only beginning but Shanahan insists the squad are fully focused on defending their title in Thurles and nothing else.

“We take every game and we’ll take Sunday first,” he added. “Whatever the result, the lads will go back to their clubs for a couple of weeks after that and we get them again for three or four weeks before the championship.

“We can work on that and concentrate on that game but we aren’t looking past Sunday. Our game is Sunday and we don’t care about the championship game, it’s another month and a half away, the only game in our heads is Sunday.”

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