Write in haste, repent at leisure

In the aftermath of his unplayable performance last Sunday, Dan Shanahan was quick to apportion credit where it mattered most: to some hitherto anonymous Limerick Leader hack who shot his mouth off in the days leading up to the final. Well, Come on the Déise is proud to be able to bring you the unexpurgated version courtesy of Goodchristian over at An Fear Rua.

But before reading it – and it’s very amusing stuff in hindsight, a post-modern example of self-Fisking if ever there was one – consider this: are we seriously meant to believe this stuff was worth TEN POINTS to Waterford? If WUM‘s are likely to help, I’ll happily rename this blog Screw the Déise and fill it with jokes about Big Dan’s Big Momma.

Deise Lack Hurling Soul

By Brian McDonnell

It does get tiresome. Every year it happens. A side arrives on the hurling field, suffering from an overdeveloped sense of themselves; expecting to win comfortably and comes away with nothing to show for their travails.

Even though Waterford only beat a weakened Cork team (shorn of three of their starting backline) 5-15 to 3-18 in Thurles the Deise have been installed as overwhelming favourites for Munster championship honours.

Admittedly Waterford have merited their favourites tag – given that they are National Hurling League champions and have won two of the last five Munster titles.

But the Deise, although it suits Limerick purpose, should not be getting carried away with themselves and manager Justin McCarthy would do well to take a leaf out of Vincent O’Brien’s book – years ago to guard his great horse Nijinsky against getting worked up during the preliminaries before a big race, O’Brien would gently place put cotton wool in his ears.

National commentators have compared the speed and quality of hurling in the Cork-Waterford game to that of the Tipperary-Limerick saga and thus come to the conclusion that the Deise will win at their ease. They have neglected to acknowledge some key factors however.

Cork manager Gerald McCarthy made a cardinal error in committing his side to an ‘open’ game against Waterford. Even in their pomp Cork could not hope to outscore Waterford in such a scenario. Richie Bennis et al will not make the same mistake; the pattern of next weekend’s final will be very different and as such will ask different questions of the Waterford men.

Secondly Limerick have the players to deal with Waterford’s strengths.

Tony Brown and Ken McGrath will struggle to deal with the Moran’s, Mike O’Brien is well suited to Michael Walsh at midfield, Eoin Kelly won’t enjoy an afternoon on either Mark Foley or Mark O’Riordan, Dan Shanahan will earn it in the same company and certainly won’t catch the ball over Brian Geary’s head, while inside John Mullane flatters to deceive.

The form of Seamus Prendergast is a concern, but should he spend the majority of his afternoon beside Stephen Lucey Limerick should do fine.

Thirdly there are goals in the Waterford full-back line.

Justin McCarthy has often billed himself as a hurling ‘guru’ of sorts – hilariously McCarthy sulked when he wasn’t included on the Hurling Development Committee – but the Cork man has now had five years in charge of the Deise and has yet to sort out that particular weakness.

Declan Prendergast has been shifted back to full-back this year, but the goals keep coming. Waterford shipped three goals against Cork and could have realistically conceded two more. Against premium opposition last year Waterford conceded nine goals in four games. In 2005 the Deise let in seven goals in three games, in ’04 conceded eight goals in four games and in 2002 five goals in three outings. This is an incredible weakness for Waterford and since Limerick have goal scorers among their ranks it’s an area from which the Shannonsiders could profit no end.

Fourthly and most critically: Waterford do not win battles and as such have no soul to their hurling. Such an assessment is unfair on the Prendergasts and especially on Michael Walsh, but if Limerick hurl on hard on Sunday the same old guys will go missing.

Then there’ll be no strutting, badge-kissing, jersey-waving or tattoos.

We learned a lot about Waterford in 2004. They were written off following a calamitous league final against Galway and the pundits predicted a Clare victory. The Deise beat Clare by 19 points and after the game ‘certain’ players sought out the national journalists and poured disdain on those who had doubted them. That was their ‘o ye of little faith’ act, but simply put Waterford have not progressed since.

Later that same year Kilkenny ground them down and in 2005 & ’06 Cork choked them to death in tight games. Note: you should always be suspicious of sides which lose games they should be winning.

While Waterford, for five years now, have had everything, but everything, going for them Limerick have not.

There’s no need to dawdle on the well-trodden path of internecine wrangling and unfulfilled potential, but suffice to say these past years have been more than traumatic for Limerick hurling.

The nadir arrived last summer when Limerick suffered their worst defeat since 1962 at the hands of Clare.

Now though the clouds of that defeat, thanks to the victory over Tipperary, have lifted and it appears as if the Limerick hurlers have picked up the pieces.

Limerick have hurled through all the pain of the last decade and come out smiling on the other side.

Ironically Limerick’s last Munster championship victory, i.e. before they beat Tipperary two weeks ago, came in 2001 against Waterford. Come Sunday evening the similarities between then and now could prove eerily exact.

That day in Pairc Ui Chaoimh Seamus Prendergast and Paul Flynn had scored early goals and Waterford were eleven points up. An hour later Limerick had beaten them 4-11 to 2-14.

Limerick staged one of the great comebacks that day, but next Sunday hopefully nothing as dramatic will be required.

All Limerick need to do is hurl hard, keep the game tight, plan for goals and run a great dirty tractor over the Deise. A win on Sunday would do nicely; make up for many wasted years and spawn an eternity of fond reminiscence.

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  1. Pingback: Johnny K – Waterford Lack Hurling Soul

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