Sunday 23 April 2017

Expectation just a fact of life for Waterford - Connors

Waterford hurler Noel Connors. Photo: Sportsfile
Waterford hurler Noel Connors. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

With every passing season, the sense that Waterford might produce something special and land Liam MacCarthy seems to grow.

Noel Connors can sense it and he can understand it. And while the manner of the county's All-Ireland U-21 success last year will have done nothing to dampen expectation, he points out that much of that side have already graduated to the senior ranks.

"I think the real GAA people will actually sit down to reflect and say last year's U-21 team had 12 fellas I think who were on the senior team," Connors reflected.

"A lot of them would have been there or thereabouts with the team or being brought on.

"There's certainly an expectation there but when you sit back the expectation was already there anyway. The players have been there, so I think that's probably something we need to voice ourselves, and say that we need to maybe sit back and relax a small bit and realise that we haven't won one since '59 and it's not something that you can just walk up to Croke Park on the first Sunday in September and take away.

"There's definitely a lot of ups and downs along the way and you've seen that over the last number of seasons."

Last summer saw defeats to Tipperary in the Munster final and Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final after a thrilling replay.

Given how things panned out last September, Connors believes Tipp are a little ahead of the rest but sees a huge chasing pack on the trail of the All-Ireland champions.

"I think that going on what we saw over the last 12 months, certainly Tipperary were incredible from the very first game to the very last and it's something that Kilkenny have done for years. So we're all trying to get up to that.

"They're probably on a step or two ahead of everyone else so we'll endeavour to try to reach that in the next number of months and weeks in training and matches and leagues or whatever it may be.

"Certainly Tipperary are the team to beat at the minute and there's a chasing pack of quite a number of teams that people are kind of writing off, the likes of Limerick and Clare but I think they'll have a lot to say.

"Even the likes of Dublin and Cork. I think Cork have an incredible tradition and people are already writing them off so I think it will be an interesting championship.

"Galway were probably the closest to Tipperary all year and there's not really too much said about Galway in the last number of months.

"Even the likes of Dublin, they'd a fella sent off against Cork and it could have (put) a totally different outlook on the championship.

"So there's very small margins that win championships. If a ball breaks the wrong way and you get in on goal … and it's a great way to have it, not saying it's a negative or anything like that.

"It's an incredible way to have it; the hurling championship is so wide open. Obviously Tipp are a small bit ahead but you've a chasing pack there of maybe five, six, seven, eight teams that could go out and cause damage any day they take the field."

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Kevin Moran will skipper the Déise hurlers for the third successive season.

Moran made his debut for the county back in 2006 and was originally captain for the 2013 season before being replaced by Michael 'Brick' Walsh.

However, the De La Salle teacher, 29, was handed the role again for 2015 and he will continue as skipper for the coming season.

Waterford face a trip to Mallow to take on Cork next Wednesday (January 18).

Irish Independent

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