Tag Archives: Limerick

Waterford 0-17 Limerick 0-19 – Minor

Walsh Park, Venue of Legends

Terrific Treaty down Na Deise – HogansStand.com
Paul O’Brien delights for Limerick minors – Irish Examiner
Perfect 10 for O’Brien as Limerick book final berth – Irish Independent
O’Brien plays leading role as Limerick book place in final – Irish Times
Limerick’s great hurling week continues as they defeat Waterford to reach Munster final – The42.ie

That’s four years on the bounce now that Limerick have done for us in the Munster Minor championship. Things could be worse. We beat them in the two previous meetings in 2009 and 2011, but prior to that Waterford had not beaten Limerick at this level since 1955. That was a run of 14 defeats. Yep, things could be hell of a lot worse.

We’ll get back to the place this game occupies in the history books later, but for now let’s combine the past and present with something I noticed upon arrival at Walsh Park. During the week I had opined on boards.ie that “the only certainties in life are death, taxes, and no matter how tinpot the Waterford game, Tony Browne Sr will be there”. And wouldn’t you know it, it having arrived just after 6.30, who should hobble in moments later but the bould Tony. Way back in 2000 when I was young, single and flush with cash, I fancied myself as becoming some manner of roving reporter for Waterford, paid for by advertising revenue. With all that in mind, I took a photo of myself at our game against Tipperary in Nenagh for posterity, and there in the background . . .

Who needs proof you were there when, well, you are always there? It’s immensely humbling, to see someone who has devoted so much of their time and effort to Waterford GAA. God knows how many of that litany of losses to Limerick he’s has been at.

Waterford played against the wind in the first half, and after the complete failure to make use of it against Cork, this was a good thing. Having seemingly had no strategy to deal with the wind then, Waterford’s plan here seemed to be to slow the game to a crawl. You know all the griping about the time in football matches lost when the likes of Stephen Cluxton jogs forward to take a 45? Well, every free inside our own half seemed to be taken by Billy Nolan in goal and he was in no hurry to take any of them. Allied to some dire shooting by Limerick, Waterford were only a couple of points down after a quarter of a game where the blue touchpaper was staying unlit. Unfortunately Waterford were not able to box clever when they had the ball. The amount of fumbling was atrocious, and there were numerous occasions when the roar of “two hands on the hurl!” went up from the crowd. Some of the decision making was really poor, such as a sideline ball which, in an attempt to play it back to Nolan, was put out for a 65 (thankfully missed). There was little in the way of goalmouth action, which seems to be the norm these days. A late effort by Thomas Douglas, when he tried to score with a swing akin to someone driving a stake into the ground with a sledgehammer, went wide and was as close as it got to a goal. A spectacular point from a sideline ball with the last action of the half gave Limerick a five-point lead at the break. This would have felt about par before the game, but given some of their misses it looked very good for Waterford.

As if noting the presence of the Tony Browne père wasn’t enough, who should sit in front of me at the start of the second half but Tom Cunningham, former Chairman of the County Board. Given his life has been the essence of tribalism, whether it be Waterford GAA or Fianna Fáil, I was wondering whether I’d see repeated volleys of abuse raining down on all and sundry. Instead he was a model of decency and restraint, even going so far as to freely admit when Waterford were fortunate with refereeing decisions. In terms of those around me though, the best nugget of wisdom about what unfolded came from a woman behind with about ten minutes to go: “it’s like last year’s Munster final again, chasing a game with no forwards”. After a couple of quick points which suggested all would be well, Waterford’s strategy of withdrawing from the full-forward line came unstuck. The contrast with Limerick was noticeable. They persisted with a man in at full-forward despite being against the wind, which kept Waterford guessing while also giving them a chance of the odd cheap free to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Not having such worries helped Limerick keep Waterford at arm’s length. Twice we made it a two-point game and on each occasion Limerick pushed back. A four-point burst midway through the half meant the lead was now greater than it had been at half-time with barely ten minutes to go. Goals were going to be needed, you thought, but where were they doing to come from?

It has to be said that Limerick looked that bit tidier than Waterford. Yes, the shooting was a source of concern for them but they were making chances. Their handling was crisper and they were frequently sashaying around Waterford’s more ponderous players. It looked at that point like heads would drop, but to the credit of the Waterford players they pushed back. Eoghan Murray really stood tall and, by dint of effort rather than artistry, they clawed their way into the game to the point where the gap was only one going into injury time. Murray had a sideline ball way out the field but it drifted agonisingly wide and Limerick’s next attack yielded one of those cheap frees that you get when you bother stationing someone in the danger zone. All they had to do was crowd out the last attack and the Irish Press Cup’s absence from this land was stretched to at least four years.

An absurd way to look at it, but it illustrates why I was not too despondent. It would have been a smash-and-grab had we won it, although that never bothered me in the past. What was more pertinent was that despite getting so much wrong, despite a mystifying plan of action, despite that malojan record against Limerick weighing heavily on us, Waterford still nearly got away with it. The thing is, I don’t think history is weighing down on us like it once did. These players have grown up with the idea of being competitive and even of winning things. Losing these games is disappointing in itself, if only because a Munster final appearance guarantees two more games, and wouldn’t it have been lovely to give these boys a big day out in front of a big crowd for the Senior final? But we’ll be back at this level. We aren’t going back to those grim days of 20+ point beatings any time soon.

Coming up on Sunday week: a seven-goal battering at the hands of Tipp.

Waterford 0-17 Limerick 0-19 – Minor – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted on boards.ie)

After their good performance against Tipperary, the poor performance of the Waterford minors against Limerick was a big disappointment. In many ways, this was a repeat of the first round defeat to Cork, with Waterford playing second fiddle for most of the match before launching a late rally which came up short. As in that game, our opponents were better focused, their first touch was much better and they had much more of a structure to their play, with many good passing movements.

Waterford started very nervously and never settled down until it was too late. Their fumble count was enormous, unable to hold onto a catch or get the ball in hand from the ground at the first, or even second, attempt. Time and again, Waterford players ran at their opponents only to lose possession in the process. There was a lack of urgency and alertness in their play, with Limerick first to the ball all over the pitch. In the first half, the Waterford backs stood off their opponents, allowing them to get easy possession from incoming ball.

Waterford were also very poor at competing for ball in the air. In this context, it defied comprehension that Waterford played their best ball winner, Eoghan Murray, in the full forward line in the first half despite playing against a very strong wind. The selectors obviously had come up with some kind of game plan which was rendered redundant by the weather conditions, and they were unable to adapt to these unexpected conditions. It was only when Murray moved to the midfield area late in the game that Waterford began to win some decent ball, and in the last ten minutes they showed some glimpse of what they were capable of, running hard and with purpose at the Limerick defence and hitting five points on the trot.

It also appears that Waterford won the toss and elected to play against the wind, which again struck me as being a poor call. I think you should always put visiting teams under the maximum pressure from the start, rather than presenting them with the opportunity to build up a bit of a lead. Even then, Waterford missed three very good early scoring chances, a reflection of the team’s weak mindset – and of course doing nothing to correct that mindset.

As it was, Limerick hit a number of bad wides themselves, and their five-point half-time lead (0-9 to 0-4) looked quite surmountable. Waterford did make a surge on the restart to reduce the lead to two points, but Limerick dug in and took over again to go six points in front by the 48th minute. The Waterford defence gave away too many easy frees, with Limerick sharpshooter Paul O’Brien nailing eight of them. Waterford did finally get their act together in the last ten minutes, and came agonisingly close to equalising when Eoghan Murray’s sideline went inches wide of the post. But once again Limerick won the ensuing puckout and forced the free which was the final nail in the Waterford coffin.

This will be Limerick’s fourth Munster minor hurling final in a row, while they are also the current Under 21 All-Ireland champions. Like Clare, they clearly have much better under-age coaching and management personnel at their disposal than do Waterford. In the 2013 Munster minor final replay, they completely outfoxed Waterford with their tactics and positional switches, and the following year, again in a Munster final replay, Waterford were unable to come to grips with their sweeper in defence. This was again apparent last night, as time after time the extra man in the Limerick defence swept up loose incoming ball.

With their Centre of Excellence and with Anthony Daly (very prominent last night) in overall charge of under-age development in the county, Limerick’s future as an under-age powerhouse looks secure. Waterford are in the dark ages by comparison.

We don’t get no respect II

I had a comment a few weeks back on my rant about the Wexford People and my underlying belief in their underlying belief that you only have to give Waterford a nudge and the whole edifice will crumble. LCD fan said:

Think the Wexford people article is a pretty fair one having read it, I don’t think your point stands up that they wouldn’t publish the same sneaking suspicion that they could pull it off if they were playing Tipp for example .

That’s all well and good, LCD fan, but you’re assuming you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t have a massive chip on their shoulder [edit for clarity: that’s me, not the Wexford People]. I suffer from a chronic dose of confirmation bias, so when I saw SBB on Seó Spóirt chundering on about Limerick’s greater desire in his match preview, it was all I needed to hear. Infamy, infamy, they all have it infamy.

If I had bothered to check other sources I would have found plenty to agree with my point of view on the game, i.e. that Limerick are heading in the right direction after a good win over Dublin and with copious amounts of talent coming through, but Waterford have done a better job in integrating our own recent glut of talent into the panel and are currently that little bit ahead of them – see here and here for such analyses. And in the end, that was to undersell our position as Waterford dished out a proper hiding in the second half, throwing up a remarkable stat:

I worry way too much about our standing in the game. I can’t gush about how far we have come from the abyss that was the 80’s in Waterford hurling and then expect others to not have their view informed by the abyss that was the 80’s in Waterford hurling. It’s not as if SBB is out to get us. I’m pretty sure his wife is from Waterford and he has frequently gushed himself in the past on Waterford’s progress. With that in mind, here’s a promise in advance of the final against Clare: they deserve to be favourites based on their pulverising of Kilkenny, a display even more impressive than the nine-point winning margin suggests as they played a sparkling brand of hurling and left the Cats chasing shadows for much of the game. Let the pundits have their say and que sera sera, okay?

NB this promise doesn’t cover anyone being unfair to us. Thank you, Donald Trump.

Waterford 3-23 (32) Limerick 1-18 (21) – media reports

Na Deise power past Treaty – HoganStand.com
Waterford spring to life in second-half – Irish Examiner
Waterford suck Limerick in and then pull away to reach final – Irish Times
Waterford book place in league decider with impressive win over Limerick – The42.ie
Second-half goal rush keeps Waterford on course to retain title – Irish Independent
Impressive Waterford slay Limerick to stay on track to retain title – RTÉ
Deise power surge blows Limerick away in Thurles – WLR

Waterford 1-10 (13) Limerick 0-18 (18) – Minor – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted on boards.ie)

The essential fact from tonight’s Munster minor hurling qualifier in Thurles is that, after a jittery first 20 minutes, Limerick were by far the better team, bigger and stronger, better drilled and technically superior to a struggling Déise outfit.

And yet Waterford will look ruefully to their 13 wides (six in the first half, seven in the second) compared with just five for Limerick (one in the second half when the accuracy of their shooting was outstanding). Some of Waterford’s wides were really bad, including two handy enough frees missed by the usually reliable Jack Prendergast (although none was as bad as Peter Casey’s missed 20 metre free for Limerick from straight in front of the goal in the early minutes).

Apart from the wides, Waterford also passed up several scoring opportunities when forwards, coming through on goal with handy tap-over points available, attempted instead to pass inside to team mates. In all three cases where this occurred, the attempted pass was cut out by the Limerick defence.

A feature of this game was the five points from long distance frees (including two 65s) by Limerick goalie and captain Eoghan McNamara. By contrast, Waterford’s goalkeeper Billy Nolan (who otherwise was Waterford’s man of the match) struck two long range frees wide, one in each half.

Limerick started quite well but missed several early chances (including a couple of goal chances). By contrast, the Waterford forwards showed great accuracy with the balls coming their way, and led 0-5 to 0-2 after 15 minutes with some super scores. Waterford at this stage enjoyed their only period of dominance in the game, with Limerick looking very nervous and playing poorly.

However, Waterford’s early accuracy suddenly deserted them, and they struck four bad wides in a row. Yet they then struck what we hoped would be a decisive blow when corner forward Aaron O’Sullivan made a great catch out on the right and cut through on goal. Although the Limerick goalie stopped his first shot, he calmly collected the rebound and slotted to the net, giving Waterford a lead of 1-6 to 0-3 after 21 minutes.
Any hopes that Waterford would drive on from this fillip were dashed, however, as Limerick raised their game considerably to reduce the deficit to just three points, 1-7 to 0-7, by the interval.

Limerick took control of the game after the restart, with Waterford struggling to get decent possession in midfield and in their half forward line. As the game progressed and the scores began to flow (especially from Eoghan McNamara’s impressive freetaking) Limerick’s confidence grew, while Waterford’s went in the opposite direction. Poor striking and decisionmaking undermined confidence, leading to even poorer striking and decisionmaking. They went 18 minutes before Jack Prendergast finally got them on the second half scoreboard with a free, only to be followed by the same player’s dispiriting aforementioned misses in the 22nd and 24th minute.

He was not the only one. Midfielder JP Lucey had an awful miss from in front of the goal and their last chance of getting back into the game went abegging when Eddie Meaney seized on a mistake by a Limerick defender to bring the ball in along the end line, but instead of using his size and pace to take on the goalie, he opted for a shot from an angle which was easily blocked out.

Referee Philip Kelly of Tipperary didn’t help matters with a truly appalling decision to award Limerick an easy free when one of their forwards took an obvious dive, while ignoring two blatant fouls on different Waterford players immediately beforehand. The resultant free put Limerick four points in front and in the clear for the first time.

In the closing minutes, Waterford substitute Mikey Daykin got clean through and was just about to shoot from point blank range when the referee called play back for a free. There is supposed to be an advantage rule but it certainly was not applied in this case, as Billy Nolan’s follow-up free flew inches over the bar. However, a goal at that stage would have made no difference to the end result.

With Waterford unable to get decent possession in the midfield area, and with the game not yet out of reach, I thought the selectors might have brought Billy Nolan out of goal in the closing quarter to try to change things around. In addition, Conor Prunty, another potential ballwinner, spent most of the game at corner back marking Limerick danger man Peter Casey, and should also have been moved further outfield in the later stages of the game, in my view.

Waterford were able to stay in touch due to Limerick’s inability to score goals. While they could have done better with some of the many opportunities they created, credit is due both to goalkeeper Billy Nolan who made several good stops and clearances, and to a beleagured defence which stuck at its task despite being under intense pressure for much of the match. Captain Darragh Lyons did as much as he could around the midfield area. Andy Molumby started well at centre forward but faded out as the Waterford front line became toothless after the change of ends.

Waterford: Billy Nolan (Roanmore, 0-1 free); Darragh Lynch (Passage); Conor Prunty (Abbeyside); Darragh McGrath (Abbeyside); Jordan Henley (Tallow); Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan); Cormac Dunphy (Ballyduff Lower); Calum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower, 0-1); JP Lucey (Shamrocks); Glenn Waters (Dungarvan (0-1); Andy Molumby (Cappoquin, 0-2); Eddie Meaney (De La Salle); Aaron O’Sullivan (Cappoquin, 1-0); Jack Prendergast (Lismore, 0-3, 2 frees); Peter Hogan (Ballygunner, 0-1).

Substitutes: Jake Beecher (Tallow) for McGrath (37 mins); Mikey Daykin (Mount Sion, 0-1, free) for Waters (45 mins); John Kennedy (Ballyduff Lower) for Lucey (48 mins).

Comfortably numb

It’s early days in Division 1B of the 2015 National Hurling League . . . that’s not true, is it? The shape of the division already looks set with Waterford, Limerick and Wexford making the running for promotion. This is probably what would have been expected at the start of the campaign so 0/10 for originality. Of the three teams, we are the team that probably have most to be pleased about. We’re the ones who are saddled most heavily with the dreaded moniker of being ‘in transition’, a phrase which should mean that we are going from one state to another, in our case that of being good to being bad, yet is invariably bandied around to mean you are going from a position of being good to an indeterminate future.  So to find ourselves with an away draw against the team considered most likely to sweep all before them and the only thumping win out of the six games played so far, we have much to be pleased about.

(I have no idea whether points difference counts this year. In the event of a tie on points, will it be head-to-head that counts? Points average? Playoffs? The answer is probably out there somewhere, but I don’t have the energy to look.)

All very predictable, and surely a black mark against the much-maligned setup of the National League where one defeat practically ends any hope of promotion. Yet I find myself warming to the setup. Admittedly that might be shaped by the fact that we are in with a decent shout of a quick return to the top table, but I think I can make a decent argument for the idea that this format ticks more boxes for what we want from a spring competition than any of the other suggestions. By only having a handful of games, each of them is more important. Lose one and you have to win the remaining games to have any chance of getting promoted. Lose two and you are in danger of being sucked into a relegation battle. Even if after three of four games you find yourself with no chance of finishing first or fifth/sixth, there is still jockeying to be had to ensure you avoid the teams in the best form in Division 1A. Most importantly, no game is going to be a certain blowout. Sure, Waterford did it to Laois, but we always beat Laois – this was our tenth win in a row against them in the League dating back to 1984 – and that has been the only game so far in Division 1B which has ended up like that. Can you imagine if Laois now had to face high-flying Dublin or wounded Kilkenny? Heck, imagine if we now had to face high-flying Dublin or wounded Kilkenny? I was feeling pretty good after the opening three games last year only to run straight into a couple of awful beatings at the hands of Clare and Kilkenny. It didn’t do us any good and it certainly wouldn’t do any good for a newish outfit in an eight-team Division 1 or two six-team divisions of equal strength.

It has its weaknesses. Only having two home games for half the teams is not ideal, both from the point of view of giving everyone an equal chance on the field and maximising revenue. The divisions are in danger of getting calcified, with Laois, Offaly and Antrim not being able to look forward to clashes with the biggest counties any time soon. But overall it seems to be working well. Now an honest naming of the divisions – let’s stop fooling ourselves that they are both worthy of the number 1 – and we might have something with a chance of lasting more than a few years.

You can look forward to the same column being recycled this time next year.

Waterford 2-17 (23) Limerick 3-14 (23) – Minor – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted on boards.ie)

This Waterford minor hurling team should be called the “Comeback Kids”, as in each of their games to date they have saved the day with a late scoring surge. However, if they have any ambitions of winning titles they will have to produce more consistent high intensity throughout their games.

In the first game against Clare they played second fiddle for 50 minutes and if Clare’s shooting hadn’t been so wayward they would have been out of sight before Waterford finally roused themselves. In the second game against Clare Waterford were played off the pitch by 14 men for 20 minutes in the second half but the lead they had built up in the first half meant that Clare were within reach when the late surge came.

Yesterday in Cork they were seven points behind when the surge began, but it still took a goal in injury time to get the draw. If Limerick had converted even half of their nine second-half wides there would have been no way back. While the overall wide count was similar for both sides (Limerick 11; Waterford 10) a lot of Waterford’s six first-half wides resulted from balls being overhit with wind assistance and running harmlessly out over the end line – in other words they were not clearcut scoring chances like the ones Limerick missed.

Waterford have shown in patches in all three games that they can play excellent hurling. However, they have to gain possession first, and that has been their problem. At half-time yesterday I said to my companions that Waterford had the hurlers but not the required intensity. Limerick were sharper, more alert and quicker off the mark all over the field. They were also more physical both in tackling and taking tackles.

However, when the alarm bells started ringing with ten minutes to go, Waterford finally raised their game and took control all over the field. It may be that Waterford were simply fitter, but my own guess is that, due to their earlier lack of application, they had more left in the tank in the closing stages while Limerick’s earlier exertions left them unable to contain the Waterford surge.

The Waterford defence also seemed to be upset by the constant interchanging of the Limerick forwards and at times the players did not seem sure who was supposed to be marking whom. There was also a lot of confusion over puckouts, several of which went straight to unmarked Limerick players. Waterford players were making runs expecting balls which never came. There also seemed to be a concentration in the second half on hitting puckouts to Shane Bennett which wasn’t working out (just as there was an overconcentration on targetting Cormac Curran against Clare in Dungarvan which also did not work as it was too predictable).

Last year Limerick unexpectedly moved their freetaker Ronan Lynch from full forward to centre back for the replayed Munster final and it proved a master move as Lynch was the dominant figure in the Limerick victory. While Lynch also played at centre back in this year’s semi-final against Cork and was named in this position for the final, he actually played in midfield where again he had a major influence on the game, scoring three points from play.

I thought Waterford’s decision to start two physically small players with similar styles (Darragh Lyons and Andy Molumby) in midfield was the wrong mix – even though both players did a lot of good work – and Conor Gleeson seemed to have a substantial impact when he was switched to the midfield area.

However, the key switch was that which brought Cormac Curran to full forward midway through the second half. Curran actually started at full forward but was unable to gain possession from several high balls which were sent in to him, and he was then switched out to wing forward where he improved somewhat but was still not imposing himself on the game.

I have always felt that full forwards actually do better when playing against the wind as the incoming ball holds up giving the target recipient more of a chance to get in position to challenge for it (and even if the ball is missed it is not inclined to run over the end line). When Curran did move back to the edge of the square he did really well in gaining possession or otherwise causing panic in the opposing rearguard. He scored the goal which launched the comeback. Although he missed the high incoming ball, Patrick Curran was right behind him and did really well when he dived to get hold of the bouncing ball near the ground and then hand-pass back to the inrushing Cormac who finished to the net.

Patrick Curran got his injury in this incident when his marker fell on him, driving his knee into Curran’s back. First reports indicate that the injury is not severe, and hopefully he will be okay for the replay.

Cormac Curran then set up the equalising goal when he superbly flicked an incoming ball to Shane Ryan on his right, with the team captain finishing expertly to the net. Cormac had previously been unlucky when, after Shane Bennett’s 20 metre free was blocked out, he got a great flick on the loose ball only for someone on the line to somehow keep it out. Bennett, who played amazingly well given his recent hand injury, deserves great credit for the way he nailed a late free from out on the right sideline (after Patrick Curran got injured) to reduce the deficit to three points paving the way for Shane Ryan’s equalising goal.

While the overall team performance was rather uneven, I thought that Michael Cronin did well at left corner back and Colm Roche had a good second half at centre back. Andy Molumby, Peter Hogan and Aaron O’Sullivan all paid their way with two points apiece. For the replay I would be inclined to move Shane Bennett back to wing back where he was so effective last year. I think Eddie Meaney is due a start in the half forward line, perhaps with Conor Gleeson moving to midfield and Darragh Lyons to centre forward (with a roving role). Meaney could also come in at midfield, where he did well in a recent challenge against Dublin.

There is a lot of quality in this team and they definitely have what it takes to win the replay, but they need to hit the ground running and to stay running right to the end.

A week is a long time etc

How good are Wexford? It’s a question that throws up a lot of variables after their thrilling 180-minute brawl with Clare. The amount of times they had to go to the well and still came out ahead of the All-Ireland champions tells us that this was no fluke. They are back-to-back Leinster Under-21 winners for a reason, and will take some beating next Saturday.

On other hand . . . what the hell was that?! When Waterford were trying to make the breakthrough back in the late 90’s, it often felt like we needed to be four or five points better than the opposition just to break even. Wexford’s performance against Clare was this mentality turned up to 11. In both matches they found themselves with twin advantages that you’d normally expect to be decisive, ten points and a man up in the first game in Ennis and two men up yesterday in Wexford, and on neither occasion could they make those advantages stick. Even the satisfaction of finally getting over the line having played 15 v 15 in extra time should be tempered by the reality that the Clare dirty baker’s dozen were really dirty, really knackered after a quite Herculean second half had seen them somehow cling on to Wexford’s coattails. Liam Dunne routinely displayed a curious contempt for Waterford in his newspaper column over the years, always seeing us a soft touch to anyone looking for a morale-boosting win. Having dispatched the All-Ireland champions Wexford will be favourites, but if Derek McGrath isn’t drumming into his panel that these guys are more brittle than a poppadom lacework, he’s not doing his job right.

Before then, we have the underage teams attempting to keep alive the dream of the last county who have a chance of winning an All-Ireland hurling treble, a statement that manages to be both totally factual and utterly meaningless at the same time. For the second year running the Minors enter the lions den of a match against a Limerick team who will be bolstered by the presence of a large contingent following their Seniors. It’s always hard to predict with Minors, the teams being so different from one year to the next, but that quasi-home advantage still applies and the sense of injustice that is surely still smouldering in Limerick over the Hawk-Eye debacle can also be transmitted from one set of young fellas to the next. While the day has not yet arrived where we can blasé about a Munster underage title – seven hurling cups in our entire history – the fact that defeat today wouldn’t be the end of the road does take the edge off proceedings. More interesting is the prospect of a tilt at the Under-21 title. Having given the eventual Munster and All-Ireland champions the biggest rattle they received last year, and with the chance to incorporate a smattering of last year’s Minors, is it too much to hope for that we might get it right after such a woeful record in recent times? Probably, but that won’t stop me hoping.

A final thought before the trouble begins. In order to clear the decks for televised coverage of the Clare-Tipperary semi-final, the Under-21’s of Waterford and Cork were initally due to play on Thursday. This meant the game was only two days before the Seniors were due to play Wexford. In a shocking outbreak of cop-on, the Under-21 match was brought forward 24 hours. You can imagine that, if they had been so inclined, Cork could have made it very difficult for this change to take place, a change that obviously benefited Waterford. Fair play to them for their sense of fair play. And that’s the last time you’ll ever read me saying that.

The Come on the Déise All-Ireland Minor Final Hawk Eye Appeal Results Matrix™!

As the clock counts down to the second Sunday in September, you may have been under the illusion that the winner of the Irish Press Cup will be determined by which team is better / plays better on the day. Well more fool you! The Hawk Eye fiasco in the Limerick-Galway semi-final on Sunday has completely changed the dynamic. The result now will be entirely dependent on the outcome of Limerick’s appeal. That doesn’t mean we know who is going to win, but all the discussion post-match will focus on the impact the appeal and subsequent replay, or lack thereof, had on the result. For your convenience, I have prepared The Come on the Déise All-Ireland Minor Final Hawk Eye Appeal Results Matrix™ so you can better appreciate where the talking points will be coming from:

The Come on the Déise All-Ireland Minor Final Hawk Eye Appeal Results Matrix™

What was that? Maybe they’ll award the match to Limerick because had the point been awarded then, all other things being equal, they would have won the match in normal time? Nah, that would be stupid!

Back to reality

The main reason I got so effusive despite losing in the end to Kilkenny was a sense of optimism for the future of Waterford hurling. And with ten minutes remaining in the Munster Minor final the following day, it looked like the headline from the 1950’s section of Our Dumb Century of “Flint, Michigan, Enters Golden Age of Unending Prosperity” was going to be applicable to Waterford, Ireland. Students of 20th century American history will know it didn’t turn out that way for Flint, and two weeks later the Waterford golden age appears to be over before it has even begun.

The sting of the loss for the Minors will hopefully be mitigated by Sunday evening as they get a second/third chance against Antrim. And yes, I know one should never count yer chickens etc, but two years ago Antrim were beaten at this stage by an eye-watering 38 points by Galway. Simply put, would you rather we were meeting Galway? While it’s never nice to miss out on a Munster title, the lopsided manner in which the two games unfolded – Limerick requiring a late-burst to stay in the drawn game, Waterford relying on regular sucker-punches from Stephen Bennett to stay in the replay – suggests only a fool would confidently predict a third game. Let’s hope we get another third chance.

The Under-21’s loss was comprehensively dealt with by Giveitfong, and while I demur from his habit of listing everything that went wrong in a four-point loss and treating each as if it were an unforgivable transgression, it’s hard to dispute the logic of each of his complaints. The Austin Gleeson one in particular is a bizarre state of affairs. It wouldn’t bother me that any members of the panel might have been put out by him being parachuted into the team at such a late stage. Had he saved the day, everyone would be too busy celebrating to give a damn (see: Paul Flynn in 1992). But it was a very long-odds punt and had he taken a blow in advance of the Minor replay a mere five days later there would have been hell to pay. One thing I would add to Giveitfong’s analysis is a sense of frustration at failing to make home advantage count. We’ve fallen at the first hurdle in each of the last three years at this level, and when you consider how much closer we were to Clare this year than last, it’s galling that a lack of planning and a lack of discipline meant we couldn’t ram that advantage home. After their dismantling of Cork, Tipperary are surely going to take some stopping. But based on previous years of home-and-away arrangements we would have had them in our backyard. Definitely a missed opportunity.

After a tough couple of weeks for underage hurling in the county, let’s end on a lighter note. Before the game my nephew was taking pictures of anything that happened to be in the viewfinder at the moment he clicked on the button. Shoes, close-ups of barriers, clear blue sky – you name something that had nothing to do with the match, he photographed it. However, amidst this frenzy of clicking he did manage to capture a certain former All-Ireland Under-21-winning captain:

09 Waterford v Clare 18 July 2013 - Under-21

As many an opponent has discovered over the years, you just can’t get away from the man!