Dessie Hutchinson hoping Ballygunner will be fully awake for semi-final clash with St Thomas

Bullygunner and Waterford hurler Dessie Hutchinson
Ballygunner Ballygunner's Dessie Hutchinson believes last year's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Ballyhale has sharpened their focus for Saturday's last-four clash with St Thomas of Galway

Dessie Hutchinson believes Ballygunner sleepwalked into their All-Ireland semi-final defeat last year and hopes they can avoid a similar fate against St Thomas’ on Saturday when they take on the Galway champions in Portlaoise.

The Waterford kingpins captured a historic third Munster title on the trot with victory over Clonlara but feel they have unfinished business after losing to Ballyhale Shamrocks last year.

The flashing lights warning of that defeat, they believe, were evident from their provincial campaign.

“We have to learn from that and we have spoken about it,” said Hutchinson.

“Throughout the Munster Championship last year, even though we won it, our performances were dipping unbeknown to us. That’s something we have tried to rectify this year.

“We’ll enjoy this but it won’t be long before we start looking ahead to the All-Ireland semi-final.

“We’re well experienced at this stage to know how quickly things can fall. We’ve been through that side of it as well. The management will have that all in place for us over the next couple of weeks. They’ll have a plan.

“We’re trying to improve all the time and looking back at that second half, there will be plenty to improve on. That gives us something to go after the next couple of weeks for St Thomas’.”

The 2022 All-Ireland champions created more history by joining Blackrock atop the Munster roll of honour on five titles but Hutchinson is most proud of the manner of their triumph.

“It’s absolutely unreal. To do three-in-a-row and beating strong Cork champions, then going up to Limerick, and coming up against a really strong side from Clare, we’ve done it the hard way. It’s absolutely special.”

The Waterford star was a professional footballer with Brighton and an Ireland U19 international in his younger days but victories like these justify his decision to come home.

He is currently studying to become a teacher at Mary I in Limerick.

“I’m coming into my last couple of weeks now and I have a block placement after Christmas so it’s been a whirlwind few years but it’s something I’m really proud of and it’s a great experience.

“You use every experience you’ve had to date to your favour and I’ve been really lucky to be part of an unbelievable club, an unbelievable group of lads.

“You’re playing with your best friends in December – what more would you want?”