Sport GAA

Monday 23 September 2019

Bennett: Top-tier return could kick-start bid for championship

Stephen Bennett: Getting the work in. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Stephen Bennett: Getting the work in. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Darragh Small

Stephen Bennett says immediate promotion back to Division 1A would be the perfect launching pad for Waterford's championship campaign after a disappointing summer in 2018.

The Déise's failure to push on from their 2017 All-Ireland final defeat to Galway has left them with a lot of ground to make up next year.

But forward Bennett is confident they can bounce back, starting when they open their Munster hurling league campaign with a trip to Mallow to take on Cork next Wednesday.

The National League starts on January 27 when Waterford host Offaly in Division 1B after they were relegated from the top tier in 2018.

But having won the NHL from 1B in 2015, Bennett knows the concluding fixture with Galway could be pivotal to the entire season.

"We are looking forward to 2019 and trying to get it right, having a good league campaign would be a good start," said Bennett.

"The teams are just as competitive there so I don't see the difference between Divisions 1A or 1B.

"If you get on a good run it gives you confidence as well. That's all you really want - winning games.

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"It would be nice to get down to the later games with a chance of actually going up. First of all you want to qualify for the quarter-finals."

The 23-year-old Ballysaggart clubman says it was difficult to say goodbye to manager Derek McGrath but he is excited about the possibilities under Páraic Fanning.

"We had a brilliant five years with him, it was unreal but that happens, every year some team can't get through," said Bennett.

"At the end of day all people look at is the wins but you could be one or two points off it and then you have no points on the board. It's just about getting the win. We didn't last year. This year we are just excited to get back and hit the ground running.

"If you look at the other teams now. There are eight teams that could win it now. A few years ago one or two teams were always winning it.

"Now everyone is so competitive that you need to be on top of your game the whole time. Just getting the work in this time of the year and starting off with the Munster hurling league."

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