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Waterford manager Derek McGrath has paid tribute to his players for the way in which they bounced back from their Munster SHC final thrashing to beat Wexford and progress to an All-Ireland semi-final.
The Deise were crushed 5-19 to 0-13 by Tipperary in the Munster SHC final earlier this month, but they put that defeat behind them to record a ten-point win against Wexford in Sunday's All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals at Semple Stadium.
Next up for McGrath's men is a last four meeting against reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny and the manager believes they are in the semi-final on merit.
“We were disconsolate after the Munster final — it was evident in our body language. I looked back at it, and our body language with 15 minutes to go was extremely negative on the line,” McGrath told the Irish Examiner.
“Coming out afterwards to face the cameras, it was even more harrowing viewing, but you’re managing your own county, these fellas are playing for their own county. There’s a feeling there. It felt horrible, horrible to the lads, but a bit of perspective is needed too. I don’t think Waterford have been to consecutive All-Ireland semi-finals in six years, so we need to stand back at times.
“We’re there and we’re there on absolute merit. We’ve a massive challenge ahead of us because Kilkenny have dominated every team so far, but I’m telling you, we’re there, and we’re there to take on Kilkenny.”
Despite Sunday’s win, McGrath admits his side will need to improve if they are to have any hope of reaching September's final.
"We’ll have to improve all over the field to beat Kilkenny but I tell you, it’s a very, very interesting challenge and one that we’re really relishing and looking forward to because it’s a great place to be, two years in a row, from where we’ve come," he said.
“We’re not satisfied with it or downplaying the significance of the Kilkenny game but we’re very satisfied with today’s work.”