Déise Delight

'For teams that don't win games, you can't underestimate that feeling. It was fantastic.'

After the euphoria of beating Wexford, Waterford turn their attentions to the challenge of Monaghan.

EVEN WHEN WATERFORD’S first championship win arrived after seven years and 15 games where they fell short, Tom McGlinchey struggled initially to believe it had happened.

When the final whistle was blasted out on Saturday afternoon in Wexford, the Waterford boss didn’t instantly process the outcome.

Tom McGlinchey and his back room team celebrate at the final whistle Tom McGlinchey celebrates Saturday's victory with his backroom team. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“The last ball that was won, I wasn’t sure whether it was a free or whether the final whistle had gone. It was that whole two seconds where the whole world stops.

“Johnny Flavin (team physical therapist) was the guy beside me and I said, ‘It’s a free out is it?’. He said it was over and I said it wasn’t. Next thing you could see the boys outside put their hands in the air and then the realisation came in that we had won.

“That elation you get for a couple of minutes after is just brilliant. It doesn’t happen too often and what’s seldom is wonderful.”

Aidan Trihy celebrate after the game Waterford's Aidan Trihy celebrates with his team-mates after the game at Innovate Wexford Park. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

This morning they discovered their reward after Saturday’s heroics. McGlinchey was listening intently as RTÉ Radio revealed that they would be welcoming Monaghan to Dungarvan for their next assignment.

Sampling a flavour of the inter-county elite in the Fraher Field will be an occasion to embrace.

“I think of the eight teams we could have got, four of the teams that could have come out, we’d have had to play them at home,” says McGlinchey.

“We’re just happy first of all it’s a home draw. It’s a huge opportunity for the Waterford public to see a Division 1 team in action because that doesn’t happen too often and to see all these top class players like McManus and McAnespie and McCarron, the two Hughes (brothers) and the Wylie (brothers).

“Household names that they see on television year after year, for them to come down to the Fraher Field, it’s going to be great for the Waterford public.”

The victory in Saturday’s qualifier ended a gruelling run of frustration and disappointment in the championship arena.

Since their July 2011 success over London, Waterford teams have suffered a few agonising setbacks – turned over after extra-time against Wicklow in 2012, pipped by a point against Galway in 2013, draw with Clare in 2014 before they lost the replay, and then last summer the chance of a famous success against Cork slipped away.

Tommy Prendergast dejected at the final whistle Tommy Prendergast dejected after Waterford's loss to Cork in 2017. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Waterford’s Football Championship Record

  • 2018 – Tipperary 0-20 Waterford 0-9; Waterford 3-14 Wexford 1-18.
  • 2017 – Cork 1-12 Waterford 1-11; Derry 1-17 Waterford 1-13.
  • 2016 – Tipperary 1-15 Waterford 1-7; Leitrim 0-12 Waterford 0-8.
  • 2015 – Tipperary 1-24 Waterford 0-5; Offaly 1-20 Waterford 1-7.
  • 2014 – Clare 2-8 Waterford 2-8; Clare 3-11 Waterford 0-12; Carlow 0-17 Waterford 1-13.
  • 2013 – Kerry 4-21 Waterford 1-4; Galway 1-12 Waterford 0-14.
  • 2012 – Limerick 2-12 Waterford 0-7; Wicklow 1-17 Waterford 0-15 (after extra-time).
  • 2011 – Cork 5-17 Waterford 2-8; Waterford 1-17 London 0-13; Limerick 0-14 Waterford 0-9.

Thomas O'Gorman Thomas O'Gorman in action for Waterford against London in the qualifiers in 2011. Gerry McManus / INPHO Gerry McManus / INPHO / INPHO

In his fourth season on the beat with Waterford, it may be tempting to view this victory as a testament to McGlinchey sticking with the cause.

But for him, the joy at Saturday’s outcome was rooted in what his players had experienced. Seeing them have something tangible to show for their unstinting efforts was all he wanted.

“I’m so happy for the players. It’s great for the players to get that feel-good factor, getting messages from all over the place. Of course we’re delighted in the backroom and we don’t hide that, but at the end of the day it is all about the players.

“For the likes of Tommy Prendergast, Thomas O’Gorman, JJ Hutchinson – the three of them were involved the last year Waterford won. Tommy was injured in 2011 but he was there in 2010, when they last won in the Munster championship. For the three of them, it’s fantastic that they got this championship win again. There is no feeling like it in GAA.

Tommy Prendergast celebrates after the game with his son Tom Tommy Prendergast celebrates with his son Tom after Saturday's game. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“For teams that don’t win games, you can’t underestimate that feeling, that two minutes after the game. It was fantastic. Just a sense of relief, satisfaction and justification for the work they put in themselves.”

They were able to bask in the glow of success as well. With a two-week break until their next showdown, it was a weekend where the Waterford footballers could enjoy the limelight.

“The two weeks definitely does help,” admits McGlinchey.

“The lads then were able to leave down the hair on Saturday night. That was fantastic and great for them. That’s the beauty of being able to play the matches on Saturday.

“They did recovery yesterday, back to work today and back to training tonight. Reality sets in today. Back down to earth now after the draw.”

Now McGlinchey must prime his players for a stiffer test. He’s mindful of what Monaghan did last year when they came to the south-east, sore after being upset by Down and in a vengeful mood as they put 3-23 on Wexford.

“Monaghan I know last year after they lost their game against Down in the Ulster championship, they came out the next round of the qualifiers as it happened against Wexford and they gave them an all merciful hammering in Wexford Park.

“That’s the worry, that they could come down like that, a wounded animal. They’re a seasoned team. Well used to defending leads. They don’t concede much. It’s definitely going to be a much different task.”

Conor McManus celebrates scoring a point Conor McManus will be one of the key Monaghan players that Waterford will have to watch. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

But to be still part of the football championship narrative in late June will be something to savour and a challenge against a high-ranked team will be something Waterford will wrap their heads around.

“We’ll try to prepare as best we can and we’ll try and be up for the challenge,” says McGlinchey.

“Historically Waterford wouldn’t have done well against the top-tier teams. Okay, we took Cork to a point last year but this year we didn’t perform against Tipperary (and) the year before we went down against Tipperary.

“It is a huge challenge but it’s a challenge we’re going to embrace and enjoy because if you don’t take on these challenges you’re not going to learn anything.”

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