Bigger, stronger Waterford pose new threat, warns Top Cat Reid
As the rest of the country salivated over Kilkenny's latest power surge in the second half of the Leinster final to see off Galway, TJ Reid's mind was elsewhere.
The Cats claimed another provincial title that day - an incredible 15th crown in 18 seasons under the irrepressible Brian Cody.
But Reid was looking at what went wrong in the first half that saw them trail by three points at the break and pointed out that it wasn't the first time the Cats have been slow to get out of the blocks this year.
And he believes this is an area that they will have to improve upon if they are to reach another All-Ireland final.
"Again, we started slow," Reid says of the Leinster decider. "Going back to Clare they got on top from 15 minutes and they got three goals in the league semi-final. And against Galway in the Leinster final we started (slow) again. We have to concentrate on starting well and our overall work rate in the first half. We have that to work on.
"We'll have Richie Hogan and a few more players back from injury the next day so that will help as well. There is always room for improvement."
The half-time introduction of Hogan - who had been sidelined with a broken hand sustained playing for his club Danesfort in late May - helped turn the Leinster final on its head as the former Hurler of the Year hit five points.
According to Reid, Hogan was full of frustration from his enforced absence.
"He was very agitated! I remember I scored a point and he was abusing me because I wouldn't pass him the ball," Reid reflects.
"He was mad to get on ball. He wanted every ball in on top of him. He was just hungry for it. It's great to have Richie back. Again, John Power came on, done very well. So the two subs made a big impact."
Kilkenny return to action in Croke Park on Sunday after a five-week break and Reid is happy that they will have no difficulty to manage the gap without a game once again.
Waterford won their All-Ireland quarter-final over Wexford in convincing style to set up a rematch of last year's semi-final - an encounter that the Noresiders won by six points. And Reid reckons the Déise's exciting young side have bulked up physically since.
"They probably have (added a few kilos of muscle). We only played them in the league back in February, so I haven't seen them closely. They look strong and they look fit in fairness. They are probably all a year older, so they probably have another year of conditioning.
"They seem a lot fitter as well, and they seem to be able to push on. Their system of playing takes an awful lot of fitness to overcome it."
Waterford, meanwhile, have injury concerns over both Darragh Fives (quad muscle) and Shane Bennett (knee).