Waterford’s performance at the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday showed the Renaissance is truly alive, they are worthy All Ireland Hurling contenders after narrowly beating reigning champions Limerick.
It’s a place where John Mullane once coined the phrase ‘I love me county’ and that statement describes the people of Waterford and their love of the sport.
Hannah Power plays women’s football for Waterford, she took a few years to complete her studies but is now back and fulfilling her dream of one day leading her county to a TG4 All-Ireland title.
And while she knows it’s a building process, the chance of the Hurlers actually winning a Liam MacCarthy Cup this year is an enticing prospect.
“We love our district, you couldn’t have said it better. John took the words out of everyone’s mouth and got the famous slogan. It’s really just a love for the county,” Power said.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about putting on the Waterford jersey and being so proud of Waterford, whether it’s women’s football or hurling. You just know that the work that all the guys are doing is phenomenal. It’s a complete lifestyle change and sacrifice.
“Everyone in Waterford follows the skid. I think this year more than ever I feel like every year we say this is the year but sure it’s mental and even the strength of their bench and everything this year.
“If not for practice or our own games, you would definitely make the trip to see them. I would say there will be good support throughout the season, as is usually the case with the big games.”
The Waterford Ladies footballers are currently in a period of transition and after a tough season in the Lidl National Football League in which they did well against Dublin, Meath and Cork and survived relegation, there is eternal hope in the summer months.
Waterford will start their Munster campaign against Cork and in her first year back at the body, Power is delighted at the opportunity to compete in a TG4 senior championship again.
“It was definitely a challenging group in the league, but when you play football you want to be the best,” said Power.
“We don’t hunt, we get there and I think it certainly showed what it takes for the Munster Championship and then the All-Ireland Series as well.
“We play Cork at Fraher Field in Dungarvan on May 15 in our first round of the Munster Championship.”
Also on the Waterford panel this year is a young Eve Power, Hannah’s 17-year-old sister.
Hannah Power broke into the Waterford panel aged just 16 and turns 23 next week. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then.
“I would have played underage from the U-14 all the time. I was actually part of the senior board in 2016 when we won the Division 2 league and in 2017 when I did my leaving cert I took a step back. I took a break before coming back this year,” Power said.
She studied at UCC and became a fully qualified secondary school teacher, where she now works out of Gaelcholáiste Phort Láirge in hurling stronghold Ballygunner.
“I took the break when I felt I needed it. I graduated, I graduated from college, finished school and then all I wanted to do was play football and give 110 percent,” Power said.
“It’s a complete lifestyle change again, but I’m really enjoying it. I was looking forward to it too. I kind of knew what it would mean.”
And she fitted in seamlessly, just as she did when she was in her youth, making the leap from underage to adult ranks.
“For me, for the two years that I would have been a minor, I would have been part of the senior board as well. It would have been Pat Sullivan to administer it. When we won Division 2 in 2016, there was a gang of us,” Power said.
“You know a lot of the girls from childhood and what not, and you go into management that I was familiar with. Pat had been my manager, my first U-14 year, he had moved up through the divisions, I wasn’t far behind him so it was less intimidating and less challenging I suppose.
“When I came back there was a great familiarity as most of the girls I would have played with a few years ago are still very much involved in the panel and are more the backbone of the panel at this stage than they kind of rise to the top when we were young , join the older players.
“You’ve got people like the Walls, Michelle Ryan and all of those and obviously those players have stepped down from the panel now and it’s people like the Murrays, Megan Dunford, Becky Casey.
“I really wanted to get back in and give 110 percent in everything we do.”
The biggest change would always be that this time her youngest sister was playing alongside her at the district level.
Power is teammates with her sisters Eve and Grace, 19, for their club St Patrick’s, but it could have added a different dynamic when the two Currabaha natives came together at the county level.
“Definitely, it was the weirdest thing of all at first because I think she’ll always be my little sister in that way,” Power said.
“But Eve is such a capable footballer. Going into training and realizing that she is now the age I was when I started. The older girls, it just puts everything into perspective. It’s kind of normal now, but at first it was very strange.
“There’s definitely a bit of responsibility in the locker room, how she’s progressing with her training, and also a bit of added pressure that I’m the older sister.
“I’m trying to get ahead of her now on our runs and drills and stuff. I would definitely keep an eye on her but there is no fear that she is quite capable of taking care of herself.
“Half the time it’s almost the other way around.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/ladies-football/we-love-our-county-john-took-the-words-out-of-everyones-mouth-how-mullanes-famous-tagline-inspires-deises-power-41602842.html “We love our district. John took the words out of everyone’s mouth’ – How Mullane’s famous catchphrase inspires Déise’s Power