(originally posted on boards.ie)
This was a game which Waterford simply threw away, and they are extremely lucky to have got a second chance at the end. I agree entirely with Horseboxhead’s comments on the game, and indeed I had already use the word arrogance in my post-match discussions of the game. When Waterford went eight points up they tried to bury Limerick with further goals rather than tack on simple points which would have put them out of sight. Patrick Curran had a simple tap-over point availabe in front of goal, but opted instead for a pass to the unmarked Stephen Bennett. If he had got it it would undoubtedly have produced a goal, but the pass was overcooked and went over Bennett’s head. Minutes later Mikey Kearney made a great run through the middle but instead of tapping the ball over the bar, he went for a blaster which whizzed outside the right-hand post. If either Curran or Kearney had taken the simple option, Waterford would be Munster champions today.
I also agree with Horseboxhead’s comments on Austin Gleeson. He is a lovely hurler and scored three great points yesterday, but I have reservations about his physicality and ability to stand up to the hits which come with the transition to senior intercounty hurling. And like his clubmate Pat McGrath (Ken’s father) he has a tendency to go on pointless solo runs which leave the other defenders vulnerable if possession is lost. A simple hand pass to a supporting colleague (a la Brick Walsh) is likely to be at least as effective and less risky.
I also have concerns with Waterford’s decision-making on the sideline. It was clear from the outset that – as in the Cork game – Adam Farrell was not at the races and he should have been substituted long before he was (especially given the quality of the Waterford subs). Tom Devine was also in serious trouble against Limerick’s Cian Lynch and again the selectors were amiss in not making an earlier switch between him and Shane Bennett. Lynch had hit four points before the switch and failed to score again afterwards.
As in the Cork game, referee Fergal Horgan did Waterford no favours. Early in the game he pulled two Waterford players very dubiously for overcarrying but when Limerick started running at the Waterford defence late in the game looking for goals there were several clear cases of overcarrying that went unpunished. Limerick’s full forward scored 1-9 from frees whereas Patrick Curran only got two frees to take. While Limerick did put a lot of pressure on the Waterford full back line, they also got what appeared to me to be some very handy frees which kept them in the game. Hopefully we will get someone else for the replay.
All that said we should emphasise that Waterford played some lovely hurling in the course of the game, and some of the their point taking – especially in the first half – was sublime. Nine Waterford players in all scored from play compared with just four for Limerick (one of them a sub). If we can keep tabs on their wing forwards (seven points from play) and cut down on the fouling we should be able to win the replay. I am a bit concerned that Tom Devine is not playing nearly as well as he did last year, or for Dungarvan Colleges this year. It is unlikely, but part of the problem could be that he is currently playing on the right side of the field whereas he had played all his hurling previously on the left. Playing behind a weak link (Farrell) may also not be helping him. For the replay I would start Shane Bennett on the right and Devine on the left, with Cormac Curran in midfield (where he played really well for Dungarvan Colleges), Mikey Kearney at right wing forward and Conor Gleeson in the right corner.