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'We're getting fed up of those moral victories. We want to go that step further'

Waterford will face Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final this evening at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

NINE MONTHS ON from their All-Ireland quarter-final clash in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Tipperary and Waterford are back in the same venue and at the same stage of the competition [throw-in,6.45pm].

launch-of-the-2021-camogie-association-knockout-stages-of-the-all-ireland-camogie-championships-with-charity-partner-ispcc-childline Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tipperary, who won last year’s battle between the sides, have reached this point as table-toppers in Group 1. They’re the only group-winning side not to proceed directly to the semi-finals, chalking up wins against Offaly, Limerick and Wexford along the way.

Waterford are not that far behind results-wise. In Group 2, they were victorious against Down and Dublin before succumbing to Cork at the end of July.

A place in the semi-finals is the obvious goal for both sides when they roll out to the Cork venue later this evening, but there are other motivating factors involved. 

Tipperary are considered a side who are not far off the elites of camogie. They impressed against then-reigning All-Ireland champions Galway in last year’s semi-final, going down by just six points after a gutsy effort.

Returning to the last-four stage is the next step in their attempt at a breakthrough to that top bracket.

“I think we’re definitely bridging the gap,” says Tipperary’s Aoife McGrath. 

aoife-mcgrath Aoife McGrath in action for Tipperary. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“Are we there yet? I’m not sure. Definitely the league semi-final against Kilkenny, as disappointing as it was to finish how we did, it gave us confidence that competed with Kilkenny for large portions of that game and sport is sport. Anything can happen on any given day.

“Every match is there to be won. I’d like to think we’re closing the gap.

“We’ve a bigger panel of players this year. Last year, when it came to the semi-final, we had injuries and that’s not making excuses or anything. But we were down three or four players that would have started on the day and look, thankfully, we haven’t had as many injuries this year.

“We seem to have a stronger panel of players. So I think we’re in a better position than this time last year.”

For Waterford, this is their fourth All-Ireland quarter-final in-a-row. None of the three that preceded this one were happy occasions for the Déise. They were five points short in the end against Tipp last year, a Karen Kennedy goal proving to be a crucial score while the losing side also forced a save from Áine Slattery in injury time.

Watching Tipperary throw some hard questions at Galway in the semi-final must give Waterford some encouragement about where they sit in the pack. But for Shona Curran, overcoming the quarter-final hurdle is the only way for Waterford to advance their development.

“I suppose we came away fairly disappointed in our own performance last year and over the last couple of years, we’re getting kind of fed up of those moral victories. We’ve been at this table a long time and we want to go that step further, give a good account of ourselves on Saturday and we want to be playing the best teams.

shona-curran-with-judith-mulcahy Shona Curran on the ball for Waterford. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“That means beating Tipp this Saturday and we give ourselves every chance. As I said, just put in a really good performance.”

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Elaborating further on what aspects of this Waterford team are different in 2021, she added:

“A bit more experience in the team. I suppose I’m the oldest on it but younger girls have another year at senior under the belt.

“I see it with the younger girls in the dressing room. They’re growing in confidence as the years go on and they really the driving force of the team. Hopefully that can be the launch pad for us going into Saturday. They’ve had some massive performances across the panel.

“A lot of the girls have really stepped up this year and I suppose our intensity has really stepped up since last year and we’d be hoping to bring that to Saturday.

“There’s no doubt about it, we’re going to need to be intense and match Tipperary’s physicality in a lot of areas.

“I suppose it’s just been great to be back playing and we’ve had a good run in the group stages. It’s going to be a big battle against Tipperary.”

Tipperary’s Aoife McGrath and Shona Curran of Waterford were speaking at the launch of the knockout stages of the All-Ireland camogie championships with charity partner ISPCC Childline

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