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Published: 00:34 | 8/8/16

McGrath praises 'heroic' Waterford players


Derek McGrath says his Waterford hurlers "gave everything inside their soul' during Sunday's epic All-Ireland SHC semi-final draw with Kilkenny.

Walter Walsh netted a crucial 69th-minute goal, as the Cats fought back to earn a 1-21 to 0-24 draw at Croke Park after going five points down with 16 minutes to play.

Trailing 0-23 to 0-20 as the game approached injury-time, the All-Ireland champions scored the only goal of the game, and though Waterford went ahead again from Pauric Mahony's 14th point of the game, Conor Fogarty levelled to set up a first All-Ireland hurling semi-final replay since 2003.

"It’s a mixture of emotions," the Deise boss said.

"I think we should congratulate our lads for the nature of the performance. It was heroic. It was epic. They gave everything inside their soul.

"Anytime you have that, there’s a level of congratulations that is merited. There’s obviously a small tinge of disappointment based on being in the position to win the game.

"So I don’t believe in hiding disappointment for the sake of psychological advantages that will be gained the next day. I think we’re disappointed we didn’t close it out."

The two sides will meet again at Semple Stadium on Saturday 13 August, with the prize a place in the Croke Park final on 4 September, and McGrath says his players are well capable of matching Kilkenny over 70 minutes for a second time in six days.

"We feel we’ve a different Waterford team that’s able to recover," he continued.

"The general consensus will be that Kilkenny don’t lose replays, that you don’t get a second chance. So we’ll be coming in as much under the radar as we did today."

Waterford defender Austin Gleeson, who struck five points from centre half-back, expressed his frustration at the way the Suirsiders let their lead slip in the closing stages.

"Being three points up with a couple of minutes to go we were in touching distance of an All-Ireland final, and it’s the first time since 2008 we would have been there," the Mount Sion clubman told RTE Sport.

"Ah, it’s hard to take but look, at least we didn’t lose.

"That’s one consolation that we have another go next week and we’ll see what happens next Saturday night."

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