Shanahan urges Deise to atone for close call of '98
TIME allows for reflection and casting his mind back to his debut season of 1998, Dan Shanahan ruefully recalls Waterford's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny as the one that got away.
The Deise's championship record against the Cats makes for difficult reading. They have to go back to 1959 for both their last All-Ireland title and most recent success over Kilkenny, which they managed after that year's final against the Cats went to a replay.
There's been so much water under the bridge in Kilkenny since then that they might prefer to remember that as the day when a minor called Eddie Keher made his debut.
And Shanahan's experience in the years to follow at the hands of Kilkenny throws new focus on the one-point defeat in 1998.
"You can never say there's a bad Kilkenny team," said the 2007 Hurler of the Year.
"They had great hurlers like Peter Barry, Pat O'Neill, DJ Carey and the like, but that '98 wasn't a vintage Kilkenny side either. And we had some great hurlers -- Dave Bennett, Stephen Frampton, Fergal Hartley and Peter Queally -- but we wasted such an amount of ball that day.
"We hadn't been seen in Croke Park in an age before that. Gerald McCarthy had done great work with us to that stage but we didn't get the breaks. As I remember it, DJ Carey mishit a free and Niall Maloney got a goal from it. I mean, when did DJ Carey ever mishit a free in his life?"
Shanahan felt no pressure that day, but as Munster titles were won and trips to Croke Park became the norm, that changed dramatically.
"In 1998, you're carefree. You're young and you don't fear anything. As things went on and the expectation built in the county, that all changed. I started getting nerves I never had before," he said.
The Lismore man would have three more cracks at Kilkenny in the championship before the end of his career. The less said about the 2008 All-Ireland final the better, while the three-point margin at the end of the 2004 semi-final was as close as he got.
Kilkenny had five to spare when they met in the last four in 2009.
Only the league final of 2007 offers solace as the Deise saw off the Cats to secure their first national title in 44 years.
"That day we went man-to-man with them all over the field and we matched them. Everyone looked after themselves and it was a real boost to us. Our defence was superb," he recalled.
"Still, that was the league, and the championship was different. You saw Dublin against them in the league final when they beat them. Then Kilkenny get a few back and Dublin lost a few for the Leinster final and it was a totally different story."
With the Waterford club championship stalled at the moment, Shanahan has followed Davy Fitzgerald's Decies over the summer and he hopes to do the same on Sunday.
"Against Tipperary they just didn't work hard enough and at the minute, there's no one better than Tipp to punish you. Galway was a different story. I gave them every chance going into that game despite the result against Tipp," he said.
"Galway had never beaten Waterford in the championship and it was every man for himself and Waterford showed they can do that and that it suits them.
"Still, I was surprised at how poor Galway were so Kilkenny will be red-hot favourites.
"It'll probably be the same starting 15 for Waterford.
"And we've seen two sides of Waterford in the last two games, so an awful lot depends on what Waterford team shows up the next day."
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