COME what may in Fraher Field tomorrow, 2010 will go down as a standout year for the long-forgotten footballers of Waterford. And if they should win? Well, we're moving into the realm of fairytale.
For many years, derided with the moniker "worst team in Ireland outside Kilkenny", the Déise made impressive incremental progress under John Kiely and now they've moved onto a higher level again under John Owens.
Promotion from Division Four? Check. A wonderfully gusty league final effort in Croke Park? Check. Avoiding that first-round champion-ship ambush against Clare? Check again. All of which means Waterford are just 70 minutes away from history -- and a first Munster final appearance since 1960.
In a two-horse race, with home advantage and the added plus of a first-round outing, you can't rule out that possibility. After all, they've already beaten Limerick this year (1-12 to 1-11 in the league last March) and could then count themselves somewhat unlucky to lose the Division Four final rematch (1-16 to 1-14).
Now for the Waterford glass half-empty. They struggled to live with that rare sensation of pre-match favouritism against Clare, eventually edging home by four points. A repeat performance won't be remotely good enough for a Limerick team that tends to reserve its best for the championship.
Moreover, Limerick's quest for that elusive Munster breakthrough remains stronger than ever after the agony of last year's reversal to Cork. And they have the stronger spine, with Johnny McCarthy taking over from the injured Conor Mullane at full-back, Stephen Lucey at No6 and John Galvin at midfield. Finally, they have three inside forwards (in Ger Collins, Ian Ryan and Stephen Kelly) all capable of inflicting serious damage.
WATERFORD: T Wall; K Connery, T O'Gorman, M O'Gorman; T Grey, S Briggs, E Walsh; M Ahearne, T Prendergast; W Hennessy, C McGrath, B Wall; G Hurney, R Ahearne, L Ó Lionáin.
LIMERICK: B Scanlon; M O'Riordan, J McCarthy, A Lane; S Lavin, S Lucey, P Ranahan; J O'Donovan, J Galvin; P Browne, J Ryan, S Buckley; G Collins, I Ryan, S Kelly.
ODDS: Waterford 2/1, Draw 15/2, Limerick 1/2