Paraic Fanning thrilled to be operating at the highest level
By Cian O’Connell
“I said when I came into it that I was going to thoroughly enjoy it as much as I can, I know there will be tough times in the middle of it,” Paraic Fanning admits about the challenge he always craved.
Managing Waterford was an itch Fanning wanted to scratch and while it can be testing joy is attached to the journey too.
“I'm a GAA man, a hurling man, a proud Waterford man,” Fanning adds. “We will give it our best. It is great to be working at this level, it is great to challenge yourself and our county being contenders.
“We know we have a chance, that is all we can do. We will give it our best shot. Hopefully we can get some reward at the end. It is an exciting time, a challenging time, but again it is enjoyable to be part of it.”
May 12 is getting closer when Waterford host Clare at Walsh Park in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship. The game matters deeply for Waterford, who endured a traumatic and injury filled campaign in 2018.
The coming weeks are an interesting time for management and players. “It is, every county is no different, we are all preparing for the Championship, there is that sense, the evenings are getting longer the buzz of Championship is coming in,” Fanning admits.
“Lads have an extra spring in their step with the ground getting that bit harder, the weather is improving. So it is an exciting time, it is hectic, we are looking forward to the Championship and games coming to Walsh Park. The first game on May 12 will come in fast now.”
That Walsh Park provides the backdrop is one of the chief talking points and a lively occasion looms according to Fanning. “I'm not dwelling on it now, but we are delighted that the games are on in Walsh Park,” the Waterford boss remarks.
“When we saw it originally my whole thing on it was that it had to be fair. It is fair now that we are on the same level playing pitch as everybody else as regards having two home games and two away games. From the point of view our squad it is very difficult to win in the Championship as it is.
“When you have a window there of a few years as an inter-county player you want to make the most of it. We want the lads to be the same as everybody else.
“The games in Walsh Park means that - it does make it difficult from a spectators point of view. They would still trade Waterford and the players having that opportunity for that.”
Having invested significant time and energy in the underage ranks during the past decade an accomplished collection of hurlers are now sprinkled throughout the Waterford panel.
“Yeah, we are a serious team, but I still think everybody is saying we are outsiders even in Munster,” Fanning states. "With everybody we are the rank outsiders to win the Munster Championship, but for us that really has no bearing. We are really positive with the lads that we have. It is exciting times.
“As a Waterford man and watching club games in Waterford for a number of years to even seeing the recent successes I'm fully aware of the quality of player we have. I'm lucky enough to be working with them, we will do our best, that is all we can do. We will give it our very best.
“We were very disappointed with the League Final, when you get to a national final you want to win it, but we met a very good team on the day, who fully deserved it and won the game. In the entirety when we look back on the League and look at some of the performances and what we got out of the League we have to be pretty happy with what we got out of it.”
With an extensive coaching CV at various levels of the game how different is it being manager of a senior inter-county outfit?
“It is very, very busy -there is an awful lot more work to it as the manager,” Fanning replies. “You have to control an awful lot of things and manage a whole group, certain areas you normally wouldn't have to. It is all good.
“My day job is Operations Manager at WIT Arena helps me with that too in how we structure things. It has been great. It has been challenging, there is no point in saying otherwise, but at the same time it is enjoyable and great to be operating at this level.
“The response of the players, the way they have gone about their business has made it that bit easier.”
A revealing summer awaits.