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Football: McCarthy Just wants to focus on this year for Decies; BOSS: FORGET THE PAST.

Byline: Orla BANNON

JUSTIN McCarthy has dispelled the popular myth that Waterford are being driven on by the disappointments of last year.

'Motivation' and 'revenge' are words that crop up quite often when the Decies meet Clare but such talk draws a swift response from the Waterford boss.

"I only deal with the present, the here and now," rapped McCarthy.

"How can you take motivation from what's happened in the past

- you can only look forward and that is what we are doing."

The Decies suffered a dreadful 2005 at a time when supporters were expecting them to build on their memorable Munster Championship successes.

The most painful moment was the heavy defeat to the Banner in the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers

- sweet revenge for Clare after the battering they'd taken from McCarthy's men the year before.

However a few months later and the landscape has changed quite dramatically.

They may have opened 2006 in indifferent form, but after making a vibrant start to the Allianz league campaign with wins over Wexford and Cork, people are starting to sit up and take notice of Waterford again.

However, McCarthy stressed: "Sunday's game will be completely different."

"Any game we have with Clare is always very tough because they are tough opponents.

"We have made a decent start to things but there's been a two week gap since playing Cork and that game is over and done with.

"Cork were short a fair few players and we wouldn't be making a big deal out of it.

"After losing to Wexford the last day Clare will be all-out to up their game and what better time to do it than against Waterford."

The Munster rivals have had some epic contests in recent years and another is expected on Sunday at Walsh Park.

Adding extra spice to the occasion is the contrasting start both teams have made to the league and Waterford's superb win in over the All-Ireland champions was a massive boost to their confidence.

McCarthy is not expecting the smell of gunpowder to still be hanging in the air when Clare visit on Sunday.

The fallout to the Banner's much publicised off-field problems still lingered when they slumped against Wexford two weeks ago but McCarthy thinks they have had sufficient time to lick their wounds since then.

And with the dust now settling on that explosive row, McCarthy insisted: "something like that can bond a team".

"But it's history now anyway.

"The public still like to talk about it but for the players and the management team I'd say it's not a factor now."

Unlike his manager, star man Eoin Kelly believes the players are being driven by a desire to makeup for last year.

"I suppose we felt we let ourselves down which is why we really want to pick it up this year," he admitted.

"We want to have a good run in the league and take that form into the Championship because winning breeds confidence."

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LOOKING AHEAD Waterford boss Justin McCarthy
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 8, 2006
Words:503
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