Mike Tyson famously said that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” and it looked like Ballygunner were dazed as they went in at half-time in last Sunday’s epic Munster club SHC semi-final against Na Piarsaigh.
The defending All-Ireland champions looked in serious trouble when trailing by five points, 2-11 to 1-9, but they regrouped before turning things around in spectacular style to book their provincial final place against Clare champions Ballyea.
The ability to be nerveless when things are falling apart at the seams only comes with experience and attacker Peter Hogan feels that their All-Ireland breakthrough last February has helped them have even more faith in what they are doing.
They are now just three steps away from retaining their All-Ireland crown – a rematch with Ballyhale Shamrocks could also be on the cards in the semi-final – and the Waterford forward is keen to make hay while the sun shines.
“We knew at half time we were in a strange position I suppose but we always believed in ourselves and we dug it out in the second half. It was just about kind of refocusing and sticking to the basics,” Hogan said.
“We might have been trying a bit too hard in the first half and overplaying some passes and taking it through the centre but in the second half it flipped on its head. We got the advantage in those rucks and coming back the field and working it through the lines.
“It was just a refocus and a real focus on the basics. We stick yo our processes the whole time. That’s the mentality in the dressing room you know, I think we proved it last year in the All-Ireland final as well that we just stick to the plan and keep tipping away.
“We all believe in ourselves that eventually we’ll come out the other end. It’s engrained in this team, we want to win every day we go out. That’s our sole focus day by day, we focus on game by game and we don’t look past anyone.”
One player central to the comeback was Pauric Mahony and having been a peripheral figure for Waterford in recent seasons under Liam Cahill, the 30-year-old looks primed to play a big part under Davy Fitzgerald in 2023.
When things were going wrong for the Waterford giants, Mahony was the one who continued to breath new life into them before ending with a whopping 0-13 (6f) but that was no surprise to team-mate Peter Hogan.
“We fought for everything there and you have the likes of Pauric there and you know that he’s outside you to just pop the ball out and he really stood up. When you have a fella like that beside you, it’s easier to work the ball and try get it to him,” Hogan said.
“He’s an incredible player and he always stood up for us in Ballygunner and in Waterford and he’s just a special player. He’s an incredible hurler.”