Monday 22 January 2018

Old head Shanahan hails Deise's young guns

Wexford’s Conor Devitt gets away from Kilkenny’s Sean Morrissey during their Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 final
Wexford’s Conor Devitt gets away from Kilkenny’s Sean Morrissey during their Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 final

Tomas McCarthy

Waterford selector Dan Shanahan admires the measured attitude shown by the young Deise players over their nine-game unbeaten run this season and is confident that these emerging stars can cope with their first Munster final experience on Sunday.

He also credits the leadership supplied by the experienced heads to keep the team grounded.

"It's an honour to work with such a level-headed bunch. I can assure you of one thing, none of those lads will get a big head," he said.

"They are a fantastic bunch of lads to work with. Of the 34 or 35 fellas there, 14 of them are under 21.

"A lot of that is down to the older lads who won't let these lads get carried away either. The likes of 'Brick' Walsh, Kevin Moran and Noel Connors bring them down to earth pretty quick in training."

The League champions have responded to everything thrown at them thus far and grown in stature throughout 2015.

Shanahan has noticed the colour emerging throughout the county as they prepare for their first provincial final in three years but wants the team to remain focused on the task at hand.

"We can't let the lads get carried away. They are young lads and coming down the town, they're getting clapped on the back and saying that we are having a great year - but this time last year they weren't saying that.

"There will be a lot more flags out, and we love that. They will enjoy the moment, but they are a very intelligent bunch of lads and I can guarantee you one thing, they won't get carried away."

Waterford haven't beaten Tipperary in Championship fare since 2008 but managed to surprise Eamon O'Shea's side in the League semi-final at Nowlan Park - the Déise recovered from seven points down after 16 minutes to post a 1-19 to 2-15 win.


"Other people would have thought we were in bonus territory going into that game. No one gave us a chance," said Shanahan.

"We beat Wexford to win Division 1B and going in against Tipp, no one gave us a chance. It takes a bit of pressure off when you are not expected to win games, especially against the calibre of Tipp.

"Tipp had a great start with two early goals but we soaked it up after that and just worked hard and kept plugging away.

"We didn't put much thought into the League but when you get the chance to win a trophy and you are in a semi-final, you go out to win it."

Almost three months on, Shanahan observes that their opponents have come on in leaps and bounds.

"The League is so different to Championship. Tipp will be using the League defeat to their benefit," he said.

"When you see the Tipp team and the way they played against Limerick, they are a different Tipp team to what we saw in the League semi-final. Their movement is way better.

"They have fellas to come on that can hurt you. John O'Dwyer, Seamus Callanan and Bonner Maher would get on any county team. They would walk onto the Kilkenny team.

"They are brilliant hurlers and we just hope to nullify them. We'll have to work hard to beat Tipp."

Shanahan realises that Waterford must make efficient use of possession and maximise their opportunities to topple the favourites.

"The attack starts with coming out with the ball and setting up the play up front. It's not something we have worked on, I just think we have intelligent hurlers that don't want to waste ball," he explained.

"A lot of those lads are in college or they are school teachers so they are all intelligent lads. If one of our players is after making a good hook, you don't want to be hitting ball on top of the spare man. We can't land ball down on Padraic Maher, because he will attack everything."

Their heads-up hurling and ability to take on their direct opponent has been crucial to their success.

"It's something we have done this year is to take the challenge, come out past your man and lay off the ball to the man in the better position," said Shanahan.

"We are using the ball way better than we have last year or in previous years. We don't want to waste ball.

"You can't waste ball against Tipperary because if you do, they will hurt you. They are the one team that will get goals. They got seven in a Munster final and we can't let that happen.

"All we want out of our lads is to give us 110pc and have no ifs coming off the field. When you do that, you have a chance."

Irish Independent

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