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'If we don't change, we might struggle' - Waterford can't bank on old tricks, says Connors

Allstar defender Noel Connors says Derek McGrath will have a few new ideas for their 2016 campaign.

Connors and Waterford had plenty to smile about in 2015.
Connors and Waterford had plenty to smile about in 2015.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THEY WERE LAST season’s surprise package — but Waterford will need to shake things up to keep their opponents guessing in 2016, Allstar defender Noel Connors said.

Derek McGrath’s system brought the Déise a first league title in eight years, but critics labelled them as ‘the Donegal of hurling’ for their defensive style.

Tipperary cracked the code in the Munster final, as did Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semis, and Connors knows that Waterford cannot rely on the element of surprise this time around.

“I think that last year we were kind of an unknown identity where maybe we were taken for granted at times — I’m not 100% sure,” the Passage man said yesterday.

But now people, and I suppose all counties realise what we have in our team and also in our panel, and what Derek’s and Dan [Shanahan]‘s and Fintan [O'Connor]‘s mindset are.

“It’s probably being able to analyse that over the couple of months that the inter-county scene is closed, and it’s to try and rectify some of the areas that teams have fallen down on and maybe try and nullify some of our forwards, the likes of Maurice [Shanahan], and the likes of Kevin [Moran] in midfield to stop him running.

“And if we don’t change that, we’re obviously going to take a step back in that instance.”

Noel Connors Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Defensive sweepers in hurling are nothing new, Connors added, and Waterford’s use of the tactic only became a talking point because of their successful run in the league and championship.

But unless they can evolve and find new ways to keep their opponents guessing, they will run into trouble.

If we don’t change, we might struggle for the vast majority of games. It’s like that whole notion, change is inevitable. If you don’t change you’re lost, and that’s probably a whole business terminology but it’s very applicable to sport.

“But I’m sure that Derek being the person that never stops thinking. I’m sure that he has a couple of plans to try and counteract the whole thing. Or maybe have a few new ideas on how to take a few steps forward and maybe get to the All-Ireland final — or even win it.”

Tipperary hurling captain training with cricket team Down Under

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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