'There are no medals handed out now - and that's what we're after'
If the timing of Pauric Mahony's injury in 2015 couldn't conceivably have been more unfortunate, you'd be hard pressed to pick a more opportune date for his return.
Mahony was informed just last Friday that he would start the third and deciding leg of this year's Waterford/Clare trilogy and with it, end his year-long absence from a horrific break of his shin bone last year, just after the Deise's League final win.
"At times, you thought you mightn't get back in because the lads were going so well," Mahony observed after Waterford's emphatic and controlled victory over the Banner in Thurles on Sunday, a win that puts them back in the Munster final.
"I owe a lot to Derek and the boys for putting that trust in me and giving me that opportunity. Hopefully, I will improve as the year goes on."
It was his first start for Derek McGrath's team since that final victory over a year back and with it, he solved Waterford's free-taking problem, as seen in both the drawn League final and the subsequent replay.
"With the club championship going on in Waterford and other things, I have been practicing the frees over the last three or four months. When Derek told me I was taking the frees, it wasn't much of a big deal, really, because I was putting the work in out on the field."
The disparity in the performance from the League final they lost to Clare and Sunday's victory could hardly have been more pronounced.
"We were very disappointed after the league final," Mahony confirmed.
"And we knew this game was going to be everything for us because it sets us up nicely now for the championship.
"Obviously, there are no medals handed out now and that's what we're after, so we're only taking one step.
"We'll be straight back down to earth now with club games next weekend and then we can start focusing on the Munster final and putting this game behind us."
Already though, Waterford look a more advanced ve rsion of last year's formidable team.
They also display a unity of purpose every manager craves.
"The motto we have is just hard work and once you go out on that field you leave absolutely everything out there you can hold your head up high coming off the field.
"We're very confident with what we have on the bench too," Mahony added.
"You just need to empty the tank and whatever is in there is in there and you'll have somebody else who will come on and hopefully finish the job," he concluded.