As one sports psychologist once explained: “If you’re a player with an unsuccessful county, you’ll have been reared going to matches, watching them lose and returning home in the car listening to adults slagging off the players. It’s hard to shut out the negativity.”
Again, history matters.
There followed an illuminating discussion about the horrors faced by players and supporters trying to overcome that appalling feeling of inadequacy, mostly concerned with Mayo but I got in my two cents on how it feels to support Waterford. And maybe with all that in mind I should be more upbeat about the footballers prospects today. There are three scenarios – a win or a draw in Fraher Field, or Limerick losing to Leitrim – which will see Waterford go up. What’s not to be upbeat about?
Yet I can’t help but feel that things are going to go sour for Waterford. Put simply, both Clare and Limerick know what it is like to be successful at this level. Most, if not all, of the Clare players will remember their county winning the Munster title in 1992, while Limerick were dishing out hidings to the likes of Meath as recently as two years ago. The Waterford players are going to be nervous wrecks this morning as they set out to do what no Waterford team has done in my lifetime, if it’s ever been done. It seems harsh that if they beat the butterflies they’ll then have to beat Clare, but they’re the obstacles they must overcome if they want to reach the summit. Clambering over the bodies of the dead . . .
Update: of course, one way to overcome the nerves is to drill the opposition so far into the ground that there is no late drama. This is what Waterford did to Wicklow a few weeks back and they did it to Clare today. At one stage the score was 0-6 to 1-3. The next time I tuned in it was 0-18 to 1-4! A late Clare penalty didn’t take the shine off as they ran out 0-20 to 2-5 winners. Heartiest congratulations to all concerned.