Deise players must deliver
PAURIC MAHONY has called on his Waterford colleagues to stand up and deliver a huge performance for their manager this weekend.
The Déise's deadball specialist admits there has been a "bad vibe" in the county following their Munster SHC exit to Cork, when they let slip a nine-point lead during the original dramatic stalemate before falling away badly to a 14-point defeat in the replay.
Derek McGrath's new-look squad has since got back on track with a ten-point win over Laois in their opening qualifier, but this Saturday's Nowlan Park showdown with a resurgent Wexford, conquerors of Clare, promises to be a far more searching examination.
And according to Mahony, it's high time that the players repaid their year-one boss, who has already had to face down some heavy criticism following Waterford's spring demotion to Division 1B of the Allianz League.
"I would have won a Harty Cup and been in an All-Ireland Colleges (final) with Derek and I'd only have massive, massive respect," Mahony stressed, speaking at yesterday's launch of the All-Ireland SHC series at the St Joseph's Doora Barefield club in Clare.
"He's brought the same enthusiasm to the senior team that he had then. He's very, very professional and leaves no stone unturned. I think it's about time the players stood up and started giving a bit back to him, because he's been working away all year and has taken a lot of criticism when it's the players that should have been taking it.
"So hopefully we can reward him with a win and kick on from there."
Mahony confirmed there had been "a bit of a bad vibe going around Waterford as a result of the Cork game, when people felt we would have thrown it away. We know ourselves that we let it slip and would be the first to criticise ourselves."
This may seems harsh on such a young squad, one beset by multiple long-term injuries, but their free-taker stressed: "You have to handle what's thrown your way. If you're old enough and mature enough to go out there and hurl in front of 30,000 people, then you have to be able to take the good and the bad."
He added: "This weekend is do or die for Waterford. It's knock-out championship. We'd put pressure on ourselves this weekend because we have to deliver and it's about time we did deliver, because over the last three or four years we haven't been happy with our performances.
"We've been knocking on the door and hurling well for 50 or 60 minutes without getting over the line. It's time we started turning good performances into victories."