Waterford youngsters need to channel their inner Donegal
Published 12/08/2015 | 02:30
Checking the Waterford penpics in the programme on Sunday was a mistake.
After Austin Gleeson had sent a sideline cut over the bar, that by rights should have been a Kilkenny ball, I looked up his date of birth. The week I finished the leaving cert in 1995, the Gleeson's welcomed young Austin to the world.
Shudder. Next thing the guards will be looking young.
I bring this up not just to throw a pity-party, but also to gently point out that they have youth on their side. Waterford, this week and probably next, will feel they blew some cosmic chance of reaching a final, on the basis that Kilkenny weren't quite the fearsome juggernaut of previous seasons. But, they're only partly right.
Although there were doubts about Richie Hogan, TJ Reid and Michael Fennelly ahead of the game, all three were brilliant and, as ever, were the engine of this team - as they have been for the last four years.
This is still the real Kilkenny. It's no disgrace to lose to them.
But they'll wonder if they could have been this year's Clare, a brilliant flame that ignites just once for glory and recedes never to be seen again. Would they take one season of brilliance for many of disappointment afterwards? Hopefully, they would answer, "no, we're here to stay."
For all the criticism of the tactical evolution that Waterford have had to listen to, they'll be comforted by the knowledge that Donegal took a year to batten down the defensive hatches, perfect three quarters of their system and only then unfurl their attacking masterplan.
It pays to learn. A season of cut-throat Division 1A battles to harden their resolve and technique will stand them in good stead. Not yet, but surely this is the team that will end Waterford's heartbreak.
Waterford have had to listen to they'll surely be comforted by the knowledge that Donegal took a year to batten down the defensive hatches, perfect three quarters of their system and only then unfurl their attacking masterplan.