It’s been a quiet month here at Come On The Déise, testament to a busy schedule in a new job and a resolute determination to not write about matters unrelated to Waterford GAA during the dog days of December In truth it’s more the former than the latter as I haven’t been following matters in Waterford GAA, which meant I missed Dave Bennett’s excoriating attack on the tactics adopted by Waterford during the All-Ireland final.
What to make of it all? It’s possible that it represents the embittered ramblings of a retired player frustrated that the new regime did not start with the new slate that he might have thought would elevate him past the players plying on their reputation. And certainly Bennett would have reason to be bitter, having been outstanding against Clare only to be dropped after what amounted to a training session against Antrim.
That would only account for why he said it, not what he said. And it isn’t hard to believe that it’s the truth. Davy Fitz would have predicated his attempts to bring Waterford over the All-Ireland finishing line on the basis of trying something different to previous regime – the old line about the definition of stupidity being trying the same thing and expecting a different result. Hence Ken McGrath at full back or the helter skelter handpassing / pivots that dominated the games against Antrim and Offaly. So how were we to manage what no one had done in three years, i.e. beat Kilkenny in the Championship? Well, meeting fire with fire probably seemed like a good idea at the time – at least, it might have done before Waterford players were to be seen bouncing off Kilkenny players like rag dolls.
So it’s entirely believable that Waterford were told to go out and give Kilkenny a bit of timber. But was it really such a big deal that “it was like 12 years of goodwill was wiped out in ten seconds”? At the time, I only noted one example of roughhouse behaviour on the part of a Waterford player, when Kevin Moran could (and probably should) have been given his marching orders. I wonder whether Dave Bennett is confusing the direction of the conversations that took place. A few months on it may seem like everyone who phoned raised the issue with him when it’s more likely that he raised the issue with everyone who phoned him.