Waterford’s performance at the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday showed that the Renaissance is well and truly alive, they are worthy All-Ireland hurling contenders after pushing reigning champions, Limerick, close.
By DARAGH SMALL
It’s a place where John Mullane once coined the phrase “I love me county,” and that statement goes a long way to describing Waterford people and their love of all things sport.
Hannah Power plays Ladies football for Waterford, she took a few years out to finish her studies but she is back now, fulfilling her dream to lead her county to a TG4 All-Ireland title one day.
And while she knows that it is a building process, the chance of the hurlers actually lifting a Liam MacCarthy Cup this year is a tantalising prospect.
“We love our county, it couldn’t have been said any better. John took the words out of everyone’s mouth and got the famous tagline. It’s really just a love for the county,” said Power.
“At the end of the day, it’s just putting on the Waterford jersey and being so proud of Waterford whether it is Ladies Football or the hurling. You just know the work that all of the lads are putting in as well is phenomenal. It’s a complete lifestyle change and sacrifice.
“Everyone in Waterford follows the hurling. I think this year more than ever, I feel like every year we say this is the year, but sure it is mental and even the strength of their bench and everything this year.
“When there is no training on, or our own matches, you would definitely make the trip to see them. I would say there will be good support all this season as there usually is in the big games.”
The Waterford Ladies footballers are in a transitionary phase at the moment and after a tough Lidl National Football League campaign, where they acquitted themselves well against Dublin, Meath and Cork and survived relegation, hope springs eternal in the summer months.
Waterford will begin their Munster campaign against Cork and in her first year back in the panel, Power is excited about the opportunity to play in a TG4 Senior Championship again.
“It was definitely a challenging group in the League but when you are playing football you want to be playing the best,” said Power.
“We are not chasing, we are getting there and I think it certainly showed what’s entailed for the Munster championship and then the All-Ireland Series as well.
“We are playing Cork on 15 May in Fraher Field in Dungarvan in our first round of the Munster championship.”
Also, in the Waterford panel this year is a young Eve Power, who is Hannah’s 17-year-old sister.
Hannah Power broke into the Waterford panel when she was just 16 and she will turn 23 next week, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.
“I would have played all along up underage from U-14. I was actually part of the senior panel in 2016 when we won the Division 2 league, and then in 2017 the year I was doing my Leaving Cert I took a step back from it. I took a break before I came back then this year,” said Power.
She went on to study in UCC and became a fully qualified secondary school teacher, where she now works out of Gaelcholáiste Phort Láirge in the hotbed of hurling that is Ballygunner.
“I took the break when I felt I needed it. I got my degree, I got finished with college, finished with school and then I was just buzzing to get back to playing football and giving the 110 percent,” said Power.
“It is a complete lifestyle change again but I’m really enjoying it. Was looking forward to it as well. I kind of knew what it would entail.”
And she fitted in seamlessly just like she did when she was in her teens and taking the leap from minor into the adult ranks.
“For me, the two years that I would been minor, I would have been part of the senior panel as well. It would have been Pat Sullivan who was managing it. There was a gang of us back in 2016 when we won the Division 2,” said Power.
“You know a lot of the girls from growing up and what not and you’re going into a management that I was familiar with. Pat had been my manager, my first year U-14, he had progressed up the divisions, I was not long coming behind him so it was less daunting and challenging, I suppose.
“Coming back, a great familiarity was there as most of the girls I would have played with a few years ago are still heavily involved with the panel, and at this stage are more so the backbone of the panel as opposed to when we were younger kind of stepping up, joining the senior players.
“You’ve the likes of the Walls, Michelle Ryan and all those and obviously those players have stepped down from the panel now, and it’s the likes of the Murrays, Megan Dunford, Becky Casey.
“I was egging to get back into it and go 110 percent for everything we’re doing as well.”
The biggest change was always going to be seeing her youngest sister playing alongside her at county level this time around.
Power is teammates with her sisters Eve and Grace (19) for their club side St Patrick’s, but it could have added a different dynamic when the two Currabaha natives joined up at county level.
“Definitely, at the start it was the strangest thing ever because very much in my eyes forever she will always be my little sister in that kind of way,” said Power.
“But Eve is such a capable footballer. Going in and at training and realising that she is at the age now that I was when I first joined. The older girls, it just puts everything into perspective. It’s kind of normal now but at the start it was very strange.
“There is a little bit of responsibility definitely in the dressing room, how she was getting on with her training and also a bit of added pressure that I was the older sister.
“I try get ahead of her now in our runs and drills and what not. Definitely I would be keeping an eye for her, but there is no fear there she is well able to keep an eye out for herself.
“Half the time it’s nearly the other way around.”