Mahony urges Deise to deliver for under-fire McGrath
Published 17/07/2014 | 02:30
They may be young, they may be green and for many they may still be in the foothills of their fledgling inter-county careers.
But Waterford hurlers are already in the eye of a mild storm in the wake of their Munster championship collapse to Cork last month, according to their most prolific scorer Pauric Mahony.
Mahony has pointed to a "bad vibe" in the county since Cork's ruthless dismissal of them in their Thurles replay, a vibe that hasn't lifted since the Rebels franked the form with equally impressive wins over Clare and Limerick.
However, Mahony accepts the slings and arrows as part of the territory and points to a strong motivational crutch ahead of their Nowlan Park qualifier against Wexford on Saturday night.
In particular the Ballygunner man feels the team "owe" a performance to their manager Derek McGrath who, he feels, has taken the brunt of the criticism.
"I suppose there's been a bit of a bad vibe going around as a result of the Cork game when people felt we threw it (drawn game) away," he said. "We know ourselves that we let it slip and would be the first to criticise ourselves."
For Mahony, payback time has arrived and excuses about age or injuries just won't cut it this weekend.
"I think it's about time the players stood up and started giving a bit back to Derek because he's been working away all year and has taken a lot of criticism when it's the players that should have been taking it," he said. "So hopefully we can reward him with a win on Saturday and kick on from there."
He doesn't embrace the idea that the transitional nature of the squad should buy them time.
"You have to handle what's thrown your way. If you're old enough and mature enough to go out there and hurl in front of 30,000 people then you have to be able to take the good and the bad.
"This weekend is do or die for Waterford. It's knock-out championship," he stressed.
"We'd put pressure on ourselves this weekend because we have to deliver and it's about time we did deliver because over the last three or four years we haven't been happy with our performances.
"We've been knocking on the door and hurling well for 50 or 60 minutes without getting over the line. It's time we started turning good performances into victories," he said.
Mahony, scorer of 11 points (0-10 from frees) in the recent qualifier win over Laois, admits they read too much into what they did the first day against Cork and paid a price.
"We had to look at ourselves after the Cork game. We didn't prepare the same way as the first day," he said. "The first day we were going out there to give it everything. Maybe we were over-confident in the replay, having been nine points up and in the driving seat in the drawn game.
"But that's done and dusted now. It's in the past. We had a good win against Laois. We went about that in a professional manner and got the result. Now we're just worried about Wexford."
It's the first championship meeting between the south-east neighbours since 2003 and for Mahony only a second ever competitive fixture against them, following on from a 2011 league meeting.
But his familiarity with so many of their players has its source in his time at Waterford IT. Harry Kehoe, the man whose goal turned last weekend's replay Wexford's way, is a good friend.
"He made a big impact when he came on the last day and got that great goal. That's the sort of player that Harry is," Mahony said.
"He got a few goals for us in the Fitzgibbon. He made the difference in the semi-final and again in the final at crucial stages.
"He got a couple of points when it was slipping away from us so he does it on the big occasion. Hopefully on Saturday we can keep that to a minimum," added Mahony, whose brother Philip continues to recover from a double leg break sustained in this year's league.
"To be honest, Wexford are coming into the weekend with great momentum. I think they'll have a slight advantage. Beating the All-Ireland champions, they are going to be full of confidence."