The Waterford footballers’ joy at outlasting their hurling counterparts in the Championship has been tempered somewhat by an unkind Round 2 qualifier draw.
The Déise, fresh off their first qualifier win since beating London in 2011, and just their second ever, have been paired off with Monaghan in what amounted to the toughest possible test.
The Ulster outfit were suckered by a late Fermanagh goal in the Ulster semi-finals having previously beaten Tyrone and finished third in Division 1 of the Allianz League.
Malachy O’Rourke’s side also hammered Wexford by 18 points in last year’s qualifiers, the same team that Waterford beat by two last Saturday.
Waterford will at least have home advantage for the tie in Dungarvan on Saturday week though manager Tom McGlinchey said it’ll be a tall order to secure back-to-back wins.
“The fact that we’re not going up there to Clones is a help but Monaghan won’t be afraid of going on the road. They’ve already beaten Dublin at Croke Park this year.
“And they travelled down to Wexford last year in the qualifiers and scored 3-23, whereas it was much tighter between ourselves and Wexford.
“So you have to be realistic, no more than when we played Tipperary in Munster, a strong Division 2 team.
“That changes the mindset. We’re used to getting beaten all the time but we’ve got some momentum now and we can’t wait for it really.”
McGlinchey said after beating hosts Wexford 3-14 to 1-18 that he doesn’t do ‘drink bans’ and allowed the players to socialise on Saturday night.
“We can’t forget that we won a great match,” said the Cork native. “They’re a great bunch of lads and deserved to enjoy it and to enjoy each other’s company. What’s seldom is wonderful but it’s back to work now.”
McGlinchey said it shouldn’t be forgotten that Waterford’s build-up to the Championship was affected by having their league clash with Leitrim cancelled.
“What happened with the league shouldn’t be forgotten about just because we had a good win in the Championship.”
Meanwhile, Tipperary, conquerors of Waterford in the Munster championship, have vowed not to raid the hurlers’ panel for their clash with Mayo on Saturday week.
Tipp could, in theory, snap up dual players like Seamus Kennedy, Paudie Feehan, and Paul Maher after the hurlers exited Munster. But boss Liam Kearns ruled out such a move and said he’s looking forward to a rematch of the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final tie between Tipp and Mayo with what he’s already got.
“It’s going to be a great occasion,” said Kearns. “We didn’t produce a performance against Cork but this is the biggest draw in the qualifiers and this is the type of occasion players love. Mayo bring atmosphere and colour everywhere they go and we’re looking forward to it.”
Louth should be boosted by the return of key attackers Jim McEneaney and Ryan Burns for their Round 2 trip to Leitrim. The duo missed Sunday’s win over London, Louth’s first competitive victory in 2018, with shoulder trouble and suspension respectively. Boss Pete McGrath said it’s looking good for McEneaney to be involved after a long layoff following surgery.
“He has targeted the next match as a potential comeback,” said McGrath. “Ryan Burns will be available as well. It does widen the options and that’s good because it means you can tinker with other areas you might feel need strengthening.”
Paul Keane – Irish Examiner