First blood to Deise but Clare will heal
Published 11/06/2016 | 02:30
The more you look back on last Sunday's Clare-Waterford game, the more it becomes apparent how crucial the opening four minutes were.
Stephen O'Keeffe's great save in the second minute was followed two minutes later by Maurice Shanahan's goal for Waterford. It resulted from sloppy defending by Clare so in the space of two minutes they had missed a goal opportunity and gifted a goal to Waterford.
In many ways, it set the agenda for the rest of the game as Clare missed scoreable frees, while Pauric Mahony nailed all Waterford's placed-ball chances.
For some reason, Clare were flat while Waterford zinged along with a huge sense of drive and determination. They would feel that their luck was out in the two-match League final and that they deserved some breaks, which they undoubtedly got last Sunday.
It puts them ahead of Clare in this All-Ireland race but there's still a long way to go.
Clare have taken a knock but it's no more serious than that. They won the 2013 All-Ireland after losing the Munster semi-final so they know that what happens in June can often be irrelevant in September.
It's a sign of the depth of the talent pool in both counties at present that Waterford don't have DJ Foran (Portlaw) on the panel and that Clare haven't promoted Jason McCarthy (Inagh Kilnamona).
Both played on the intermediate teams last Sunday and looked very much like men who could step up to senior level straight away. A lot of other counties would have called them up already.
A last point: the mess with the Christy Ring Cup hasn't been good for the GAA's image as people are wondering how on earth the wrong score could have recorded.
The referee made a mistake - which can happen to anyone - but was one or more of his officials not keeping an eye on the score too? There were enough of them around and they had far less to do than the referee.
It's an unfortunate business but the GAA were right to order a replay. It's tough on Meath but they didn't actually win the game.