'It's empty vessels making the most noise'
Waterford 1-35 Offaly 0-14 - All-Ireland SHC RD 1 Qualifier
Derek McGrath has become well accustomed to "outside noise" since taking the Waterford reins but after swatting Offaly's challenge aside and getting their All-Ireland bid back on course, the Déise boss is adamant that no problems exist in his camp.
The vultures circled around McGrath in the wake of an off-day in their Munster semi-final defeat to Cork so a "confidence building" 24-point win, racking up 35 points with 13 different scorers without leaving second gear, was just what the doctor ordered.
"That's part and parcel of it, I've said it before, it's a fickle world," McGrath said. "My mother says empty vessels make the most noise - well Shakespeare said it, not my mother but she quotes Shakespeare! Honest to God, a plan interrupted by noise from the outside is not a plan at all.
"There is never a problem with our camp. In the four years, I don't think there has ever been a player who has questioned anything in a public sense or through a public forum.
"Locally, there was some criticism of the team and management. Like any criticism, when you are up there to be shot at, you have to accept it and say, maybe, there is merit in some of it.
"But the day of siege mentality on what people are saying, that's gone. That's a mentality we are trying to stay clear of. We know what we have in terms of the honesty and leaders within the group. It is just a case of empty vessels making the most noise."
The return to form of last year's Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson was encouraging with the Mount Sion maestro, stationed at centre-forward throughout, firing over six points and contributing to several other scores in an energetic display.
Waterford struggled to get to grips with Offaly's three sweepers in the early stages with the sides level after 20 minutes but it was one-way traffic thereafter with Shane Bennett's expertly-taken goal helping them into a 13-point half-time lead, 1-18 to 0-8.
A further 17 points followed but despite easily justifying the favourites tag, McGrath outlined how this game was treated as if it was their last with great satisfaction taken from being able to keep their foot on Offaly's throat right until the final whistle.
"We were relentless in our approach, this was an All-Ireland for us. We were in our team meeting beforehand and Eoin Murphy spoke brilliantly, his addition has been huge over the last four or five weeks. We're just determined to stick to the course. We did nothing different than what we did in the run up to the Cork game," McGrath said
After conceding 33 points to Galway two weeks ago, the scoreboard didn't make good reading again for Offaly manager Kevin Ryan, this time against his native county, but he called for perspective about where the Faithful are and he isn't deterred going forward as he looks to tempt "10 to 12" new faces into the fold for 2018.
"We can't get 30 lads in to play a full practice game. If a lad won't commit to come into you on a Sunday morning for a training session, it is hard to get them to commit for a full year. There are some genuine reasons why lads can't commit, but there are some bull**t excuses," the Faithful boss said.
"If it was 20 years ago, lads would be biting off your hand to come in because they are coming in to win something. Lads are looking at it now with the attitude of, 'what am I going in there for?' There are lads in clubs saying to these lads, 'why would you bother your arse going in there?'.
"It is annoying when you hear some of the traditionalists saying, 'why can't they do this and why can't they do that?'. They'd be as well off to talk their own clubmen to come in and commit to Offaly. It would sicken you."
Offaly were caught between two different game plans with their accurate short puck-outs proving ineffective as they regularly ballooned the ball up field whereas Waterford looked slick and confident on the ball once they overcame a sloppy opening quarter.
Shane Dooley's free-taking had the Faithful level at 0-6 apiece but the Déise went into overdrive as they reeled off eight points in a row in the next ten minutes to quickly put the game to bed with Pauric Mahony on song in attack.
Shots from distance helped render Offaly's blanket defence redundant and with the aid of a stiff breeze, Stephen O'Keeffe's monster puck-out went all the way to the edge of the Offaly square where Bennett controlled the sliotar beautifully before firing past goalkeeper James Dempsey.
With Dooley unable to return after half-time due to a thumb injury, it could have been even worse for Offaly but for Dempsey, who settled his score with Bennett when denying him from a groundstroke in the second half before an acrobatic save thwarted Gleeson in injury time as Waterford cruised home without impressing.
McGrath's men will have bigger fish to fry in the next round but he's happy to still be in with a shout. "When we've good opposition, it'll be 50-50 at best and that's what it's all about. Whatever team comes out, it'll be 50-50, that's the reality of sport," he said.
Scorers - Waterford: P Mahony 0-11 (7f, 0-1 '65), A Gleeson 0-6, P Curran 0-4 (2f, 0-1 '65), Shane Bennett 1-0, J Barron, M Shanahan, D Fives, K Moran, C Dunford 0-2 each, M Walsh, T de Búrca, J Dillon, T Ryan 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 0-5 (5f), J Bergin 0-3 (2f), S Kinsella, E Nolan, J Mulrooney, O Kelly, B Conneely, P Guinan 0-1 each.
Waterford - S O'Keeffe 7; N Connors 7, B Coughlan 6, S Fives 6; T de Búrca 7, C Gleeson 6, Philip Mahony 7; J Barron 8, K Moran 7; M Walsh 6, A Gleeson 8, Pauric Mahony 8; D Fives 7, M Shanahan 6, Shane Bennett 7. Subs: J Dillon 6 for Shanahan and C Dunford 7 for Walsh (both 48), S Daniels 6 for Moran (52), T Ryan 7 for Bennett (55), P Curran 7 for Pauric Mahony (60).
Offaly - J Dempsey 8; B Conneely 7, D Shortt 6, P Camon 6; S Gardiner 7, A Treacy 5, D King 7; S Ryan 6, J Bergin 7; P Murphy 6, S Kinsella 6, E Nolan 5; J Mulrooney 6, S Dooley 6, O Kelly 6. Subs: E Grogan 6 for Treacy and S Cleary 6 for Dooley inj (both half-time), M Cleary 6 for Nolan and P Geraghty 6 for Kinsella (both 54), P Guinan 7 for Murphy (58).
Ref - A Kelly (Galway)