Waterford 6-24 (42) Offaly 0-15 (15) – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted on boards.ie)

Waterford romped to a facile victory over a poor Offaly outfit in this senior hurling challenge at the St Molleran’s ground in Carrickbeg today. Not only did they score 30 times but they also hit 22 wides, compared with Offaly’s fifteen scores and eight wides (all of the latter struck in the second half).

Waterford lined out with Liam Lawlor at fullback (in front of Stephen O’Keeffe) with Noel Connors and Barry Coughlan in the corners. Kevin Moran was at centre back with Jamie Nagle and Tadhg Bourke on the wings. Brick Walsh and Eddie Barrett were at midfield. Pauric Mahony was on the forty with Gavin O’Brien and Austin Gleeson on either side while Shane Walsh was at full with Brian O’Sullivan and surprise selection (to me, anyway) Colin Dunford of Colligan in the corners.

It was a fine day but a strong blustery wind was blowing towards the town goal and assisted Waterford in the first half. There were no indications in the early stages of how the game was to eventually turn out. Offaly started confidently enough, working the ball out of defence against the wind with some slick short-passing moves. However, once Brick took over in midfield with the assistance of the hard-working Eddie Barrett and with Jamie Nagle and Tadhg Bourke doing well at wing back, Waterford assumed almost total territorial dominance. They had some early difficulties with the wind but once they got their eye in the scores began to flow, with Offaly’s few replies mainly coming from frees.

The first goal was a typical Brian O’Sullivan effort, picking up a good low ball into the corner and then skinning his marker to finish emphatically. Colin Dunford notched the second, also finishing well after being set up by Shane Walsh, who had an excellent first half. Half time score Waterford 2-16 Offaly 0-6.

Waterford started the second half with the same fifteen, and kept up the pressure with Colin Dunford notching a good second goal. Waterford then rang the changes with a whole slew of substitutions (I counted 13 in all but there may have been more). These included, unexpectedly, Jake Dillon but he did not last long before himself being substituted (I was told afterwards this was only precautionary).

Although Offaly had wind assistance it took them 15 minutes before getting their first score of the second half while Waterford piled on the pressure, including two goals from Seamus Prendergast (who replaced Shane Walsh) and one from Killian Fitzgerald (I think, although someone else thought it was Ryan Donnelly – he was wearing no. 22).

Despite all the substitutions, Waterford probably played better in the second half as, playing against the strong wind they had to be more constructive and precise in their play. They put together a lot of good movements and regularly tore the Offaly rearguard apart, but ten second half wides shooting into the wind kept the margin of victory down.

Such was the poor calibre of the opposition and the open nature of the play that this game will have been of little use as championship preparation. However, the game did show that, even with several players injured, Waterford still have a strong panel, with their domination of this game continuing even after most of the starting fifteen had been substituted.

For Waterford, Liam Lawlor, in his first game back, had his problems against big Joe Bergin. Barry Coughlan played the whole game and did well. Paudie Prendergast replaced Noel Connors at corner back in the second half. It was good to see him finally being given some game time and, as usual, he gave a polished performance. Ian O’Regan also replaced Stephen O’Keeffe in the second half.

Tadhg Bourke was very impressive in his first outing in the half back line (following up on what I believe was an excellent performance at centre back with UCC in the Cork senior championship on Saturday – a game in which DJ Foran, Shane Roche and Mark O’Brien also played). In the second half he and Kevin Moran were replaced by Richie Foley and Shane Fives.
Brick and Eddie Barrett were replaced by Shane O’Sullivan and Shane McNulty who has strengthened up a lot and gave some excellent ball into the forwards. Barrett came on again to replace Jake Dillon.

Gavin O’Brien had a good first half on the wing, notching four points, but Austin Gleeson didn’t seem to have much impact. They (and Pauric Mahony, who played well) were replaced by Jake Dillon, Tomás Connors and (I think) Killian Fitzgerald. Colin Dunford appears to have put on a bit of extra muscle but has retained his lightning speed and was going past Offaly defenders as if they weren’t there. He finished with 2-2. He was replaced by Stephen Roche, with Seamus Prendergast (who looked very sharp) coming on for Shane Walsh and Brian O’Halloran replacing Brian O’Sullivan. It was good to have O’Halloran back and he played to good effect. I was told later on that Donie Breathnach was supposed to have played but I didn’t notice this.

Missing on the day (apart from long-term injuries Stephen Daniels and Philip O’Mahony) were Darragh Fives, Stephen Molumphy, Jamie Barron, Ray Barry and Maurice Shanahan. The general view after the game was that Fives, Molumphy and Barry all have a good chance of being ready for the Cork game but that the immediate outlook for Barron and Shanahan was not as positive.

Waterford play Tipperary behind closed doors in Thurles next Tuesday. This is likely to be a more serious test and it is likely that the starting line-up here will be more along championship lines.

Waterford scorers: Colin Dunford (2-2); Seamus Prendergast (2-1); Pauric Mahony (0-6, five frees); Brian O’Sullivan and Killian Fitzgerald (?) (1-1 each); Gavin O’Brien (0-4); Jamie Nagle, Eddie Barrett and Shane Walsh (0-2 each); Tadhg Bourke, Austin Gleeson and Jake Dillon (0-1 each).