After 2017, Waterford are undoubtedly hungry heading into the Championship 2018. Derek McGrath guided the Déise to the All Ireland Final last year. They fell short though, at the hands of a strong Galway side.
You can rest assured that Waterford will be back for more this year.
Waterford’s form last year was a testament to themselves. They lost out to Cork in the Munster Semi-Final. This was then followed by a very impressive run through the Championship, they saw off stiff competition from Offaly, Kilkenny, Wexford and Cork.
They need to maintain this persistence now in 2018. However, their League campaign this winter wasn’t their best by any means.
In the first game against Wexford, McGrath didn’t use any subs and then in the next game against Tipperary he lined out a completely different team. This perhaps suggests that Derek McGrath was getting his full use of the Déise men, as managers do throughout the League. It is a chance to test everyone’s talent, a trial run as such prior to the Championship.
Though relegation followed for Waterford, who will now play in Division 1B of the Allianz League next year.
No home comforts for Waterford
This summer brings a new format for the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Littlewoods Ireland ambassador Austin Gleeson views the changes as a good thing. ‘I think they are good! There is no team now that just go out and win on a fluke. You now have to earn your win.’
The new restructuring will test each team, but perhaps Waterford the most. The new format introduces a new round-robin stage at the beginning of the Provincial Championships.
Each team will play four games, two at home and two will be played away. Each team that is, except Waterford. Walsh Park is being refurbished, which means all of the Waterford games will be played away. They will lose their home advantage.
Will that affect the Déise?
Gleeson seems confident that Waterford fans will make the journeys with them.
‘Having four games away might have a small bit of an effect on it, but probably not for our side. I think the supporters will travel with us to the away games. Especially if we get a win in the first match, I would say they will.’
Tom Devine is one to watch on the Waterford panel. He played successfully last year throughout the League, looking in top form. As the summer came he decided to go travelling and missed the Championship. This year he returns to the Déise and could be a key player for them.
McGrath will now enter his 5th year in charge of this Waterford team. They have improved gradually over time, and after last year’s success, they will definitely have fire in their bellies come this summer.
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