Monday 19 March 2018

Déise judged too quickly for Munster final collapse - Connors

Waterford's Noel Connors Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Waterford's Noel Connors Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Noel Connors feels Waterford have been judged as a team far too much on their second-half Munster final collapse against Waterford.

The Déise corner-back, such a pillar of consistency even during troubled times this decade, believes they have been too easily "tarnished" for what happened that day in Limerick when they shipped five goals.

"It's a game that we look back on with obviously dread and everything else but it was probably our worst performance in maybe two-and-a-half, even three years," said Connors.

"People are still looking at the Munster final defeat to Tipperary as what Waterford are about but they forget about great games against the likes of Wexford, Limerick in the league semi-final and Clare, three great games we've played already against them this year.

"And you even look back to last year's league final and semi-final against Tipperary again.

"Maybe it's a wrong representation of what we are as a group of players but certainly the performance against Kilkenny is the level that Derek (McGrath) has got us to in the last three years since he's got involved," he pointed out.

"Certainly I think we've been a team that has been maybe tarnished with a brush for the Munster final."

Connors doesn't feel Waterford will dwell too long on last Sunday's epic draw and is looking forward to mixing it with the All-Ireland champions in Thurles on Saturday evening.

"I don't think it's something we're going to reflect on too much," he said. "We're probably going to go back and look at our strengths and some of the developmental areas where we need to go up on, if that's maybe pushing up when they're getting quick puck-outs in the last five minutes, if that's something we need to put our finger on and do something different there, we're certainly going to do that.

"But it's very much go a case of going out and playing with a freedom and the abandon that Derek has been talking about in the last couple of weeks."

Connors says he enjoyed Waterford's approach to the game and the hectic contest it threw up.

"I think a lot of the game was kind of on our terms where we wanted to go out and play hurling to our strengths," he said. "I think that was why it was ebbing and flowing, which was great to see.

"I don't know is it tradition or is it just the mentality of Kilkenny. But it's a mentality that champions have. They've been a phenomenal side and still are, probably the best team ever to grace a hurling field.

"You have to respect that but also go out with the best of intentions to try to win the game. Obviously you can't respect it too much where you own game is burdened and you're looking too much at what they have."

Meanwhile, Brian Gavin is the clear favourite to referee the All-Ireland senior hurling final on September 4. If appointed, it will be the fourth time in six seasons that the Offaly whistler has been given the nod.

Elsewhere, JJ Doyle has stepped down as Wexford U-21 hurling manager after four years at the helm.

Irish Independent

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