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Deise hero Bennett: 'There's too many games we're after leaving behind us'

Stephen Bennett’s goal early in the second-half was key to Waterford’s revival.

Waterford's Stephen Bennett celebrates scoring his goal.
Waterford's Stephen Bennett celebrates scoring his goal.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

WATERFORD STAR STEPHEN Bennett hailed the confidence instilled into the team by Liam Cahill after their sensational come-from-behind win over Kilkenny in today’s All-Ireland semi-final.

The Deise overturned a nine-point deficit to seal a return to their first final since 2017, consigning Brian Cody to his first last four defeat since 2005.

Goals from Stephen Bennett and sub Darragh Lyons brought Waterford back into the game, as a four-point haul from Austin Gleeson helped them over the line. 

“The last few years we probably would have faded but in fairness to Liam Cahill and the lads they told us we can’t go to Croke Park and leave it like that,” man-of-the-match Bennett told RTÉ Sport of his manager’s half-time words.

“After a positive year, we can’t come out and get hammered. We were seven points down but shouldn’t have been. We always believe in ourselves and in fairness they’ve after instilling that into us.

“We’re back in an All-Ireland final thank God. A couple of years ago we probably didn’t perform so we’ve two weeks now to just recover and get the heads right, the bodies right and see who we’ll play.

“We knew what we were expecting coming up and we promised that we wouldn’t leave Kilkenny kill us off in the first ten minutes. We were kind of over-eager I think, we were nearly trying too much. There were a couple of snapshots, we were panicking. We were seven down, they got two goals with the bounce of the ball.

“We could have been in it at half-time, we felt we’d definitely five or six mistakes made ourselves. We knew we’d a chance.

“We’ve got legs, we know that. In fairness to a few lads they really stood up – Jack Fagan and a few others – when we really needed them. We got the goal or two and everyone contributed, we got back into it.”

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In a season where he took on the free-taking mantle in the absence of the injured Pauric Mahony, Bennett’s 1-10 was critical to Waterford’s fightback. 

With 1-44 in four games, only Tony Kelly (1-53) has scored more than Bennett in the championship. 

“I know we were losing the last [couple of years] but a lot of us have played here a good bit. Whether it be underage or be [senior level]. And look, in fairness everyone stood up in the second-half when we needed it.

“We kept plugging away and said don’t just panic and start going for goals, keep tipping them over the bar. Then we got back into it, we got back to within two or three and we kind of believed that we had it again. Just delighted to come up here and get a win.

“There’s too many games we’re after leaving behind us. If we can’t take faith from that, we’re after beating Kilkenny, I think they haven’t lost an All-Ireland semi-final in their last 11. In fairness they’re the best in the country at that and we’re just delighted to get over them.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Kevin O'Brien

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