'The Burlington wasn't a nice place to be' - John Mullane calls for Waterford to rally around Derek McGrath
Devastation, that's the word Waterford hurling legend John Mullane used to describe the aftermath of yesterday's All-Ireland final but he admitted that his tears were tinged with pride.
Mullane hopes that the Déise's recovery from a horror start to take the lead in the second half and the battling qualities they exhibited will be enough to convince people that Derek McGrath is the man to deliver their long-awaited All-Ireland.
Waterford veterans Kevin Moran and Michael 'Brick' Walsh should also give themselves another shot at Liam MacCarthy, according to the De La Salle man.
"For Waterford, there will be devastation. I just hope that Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh and Kevin stay on. I hope Derek McGrath remains as manager and the Waterford County Board should go to him now and offer him a fresh two or three-year term," he wrote in his column in the Irish Independent.
"There are better days ahead for this Waterford team and there’s now a realisation within the county that we do have a top-class manager.
"I’ve mentioned previously how he divides opinion in Waterford, but I think the gap has closed and there are now more believers than doubters.
"He’s been appreciated a lot more over the last few weeks; people have bought into what he’s doing and we’re all extremely proud of him and the team."
Mullane admitted that the result was tough to take.
"I broke down when the full-time whistle blew. It was either going to be tears of joy or tears of hurt. Unfortunately, it was the latter and I did get very emotional because I know how much these Waterford lads have invested in this journey," he added.
"We’re all feeling down this morning, but this group will come again.
"Finals are for winning, though, and to Galway, the spoils.
"However, I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of these Waterford players because they gave us so much this summer.
"When the game is broken down, you have to credit Galway manager Micheál Donoghue.
"He gambled with Johnny Glynn from the start and while it didn’t work, his two substitutes, Niall Burke and Jason Flynn, won the All-Ireland final for them."
Austin Gleeson was not at his best but Mullane believes the experience will stand to him in the years to come.
"Gearóid McInerney summed them up in this regard. I couldn’t get over how good he was because I thought he might struggle on Austin Gleeson.
"He was just excellent – and a leading contender for Man of the Match.
"I won’t be hard on Austin because sometimes finals can bypass players and nobody can take away what he’s done for the team over the last couple of years.
"He’s only 21, after all. He’ll regroup and go again.
"Hopefully Austin will win his All-Ireland medal some day, but Joe Canning has finally got his."