Daly and Davy drag troops to next level
WHILE there were a few exceptional performances on the field in Semple Stadium yesterday, two of the managers on display got their approach to their games just right.
Anthony Daly's tactics and switches essentially won Dublin the game against Limerick, while Davy Fitzgerald's ability to guide Waterford from a 21-point hammering to 10-point winners over Galway was a truly remarkable feat.
Fitzgerald didn't allow Waterford to dwell too long on that defeat to Tipperary as he got inside their heads at training at nine in the morning the next day and since then they have built steadily towards yesterday's performance.
Right from the off, they were on top. Michael 'Brick' Walsh was brilliant again. So too were Kevin Moran and Shane Walsh, while the ploy of positioning Seamus Prendergast at wing-forward paid dividends as he gathered a lot of primary possession.
Liam Lawlor had a good game at full-back while up front every one of the Waterford forwards scored and they were particularly impressive on the restart when they hit five points in the first six minutes to move seven ahead and effectively kill off the game.
And that was the most disappointing thing about Galway's display. With the game going away from them, they didn't throw caution to the wind and just go for it.
Perhaps the favourites' tag got to them and some of the body language wasn't great, but after two wins over Clare and Cork, you'd have thought they had their confidence back and you could finally predict which Galway team was going to show up in Thurles.
But instead of coming out all guns blazing, we saw the team that lost so badly to Dublin, and Galway people were entitled to expect more from their team.
There were bouts of lateral passing in the half-back line and they got turned over and punished on a couple of occasions.
The losses to Tipperary and Waterford that ended Galway's interest in the championship in the last two seasons at least offered some cause for hope, but that was nowhere to be seen yesterday. They were beaten by 10 points and you'd have to say Waterford were worth every bit of that winning margin. The soul-searching for John McIntyre and his side will drag on long into the winter.
And while Galway are down in the dumps, the remarkable rise of Dublin hurling continues. Progression to their first All-Ireland semi-final in 63 years combined with Leinster titles at minor and U-21 level and league and Walsh Cups mark this out as a remarkable season for the capital.
But the most important move they made this year was retaining Anthony Daly in the wake of the Antrim defeat last year and he proved his worth yesterday.
The decision to position the pace of Alan McCrabbe on Brian Geary was clever while Ryan O'Dwyer justified his inclusion on the edge of the square.
Dublin had struggled to score goals this year but O'Dwyer vindicated the manager's decision to start him at the edge of the square as he hit 3-1 early on with probably only four touches of the ball.
Donal O'Grady's imprint is all over Limerick, but when the pressure came on and scores were there for the taking, their decision-making and shot selection went awry.
That will only come with time and there's plenty there for O'Grady to work with should he choose to stay on. Declan Hannon was outstanding while Kevin Downes is another good prospect, while I thought Tom Condon had a superb game too.
But it's Dublin and the Deise that march on and they'll both be overwhelming underdogs against Tipperay and Kilkenny respectively. There'll be nothing expected from them and that's the way they'll want it.