"That is us out there," promised Derek McGrath, leaning back against a wall and coping with the latest successful day in Waterford's ongoing happy revival. The league has been good to Waterford.
Or, more accurately, Waterford has been good for the league. Storming the citadel from Division 1B last year and carrying that form through to this year's final, they have been a breath of fresh air. Their 3-23 was a handsome total on a windy day in Thurles and – temporarily at least – silences the concern about Waterford's potency up front.
“Look, our attitude is blatant about the league. We have been consistent in our attitude towards it. We feel that our best chance of success in the championship is to have a good league campaign. There are no secrets or hidden tactical ploys or anything.
“The whole talk of teams gearing themselves for a championship push: we feel that the best way is to be in a league final and we have been very honest about that.”
If the first half was cagey, with both teams settling for scores from distance and mundane frees, Waterford cut loose after the break. Shane Bennett's penalty was a light-bulb moment: goals soon followed for Patrick Curran and substitute Tom Devine.
“It is probably a noose hanging around your neck in terms of getting a goal but we are just glad to get them and worked hard to. We felt they had set up with Ronan Lynch sweeping. The crux for us was whether we played with a six versus five or seven versus five on the other side. Wexford set up with seven at the back against us and we found it hard to break them down. Early on we worked the ball well for the first few plays but then we varied it. But most teams don’t leave much space and I think it was up to the lads themselves rather than any message.”
TJ Ryan was forthright about what went wrong for Limerick, lamenting the defensive cover for the goals but mainly just allowing that his team had not been good enough in the second half.
“You can make excuses but you have to say that Waterford’s physicality and they made a lot fewer errors on the ball than us in the second half. They drove on. They turned over possession a couple of times and punished us hard. It was difficult for our forwards. Their system, as we well know, is difficult to play against. But at the same time we knew it and had studied it and I thought we were doing fine.
“We would have loved to have another game at this level. They showed the gap there at the finish. Eleven points. And you’d have to say in the second half that they were full value for it.”