Wednesday 24 January 2018

Cyril Farrell: Déise won't get carried away with the dawn of a new era

Waterford’s Jamie Bannon attempts to get away from Cork’s Stephen McDonnell during their clash in Semple Stadium
Waterford’s Jamie Bannon attempts to get away from Cork’s Stephen McDonnell during their clash in Semple Stadium

Cyril Farrell

That was some display from the new force of hurling. Cork were blown away and couldn't live with Waterford from start to finish.

The young lads that are coming through have all bought into what Derek McGrath has been trying to instil since taking over and we're seeing that bear fruit now.

Jamie Barron has really rejuvenated himself and was outstanding yesterday. There were a lot of stand-out individual performers but it was the collective effort that impressed me most.

The purists will argue Waterford's style of play isn't vintage but the bottom line is that it is winning hurling and that's all their supporters will care about.

Cork were unable to handle Waterford's ability to mix up their play with short and long passes, and McGrath's men deservedly won on merit.

People will say the Championship meeting between the two teams will be a lot different but I wonder will it really?

I doubt Cork will be as far off the pace as yesterday but one thing is for certain, Waterford won't change their tactics.

They were very intelligent in their use of the ball. Every time they passed it off, there was another player ready to take it on at full pace. Cork can't have any complaints - they were beaten by the better team on the day.


Stephen O'Keeffe pulled off a marvellous save in the first half and that was the crucial moment for me. He was been excellent in the last couple of seasons and his second-half stop gave another reminder of his class.

McGrath got a tough time last year but his system is working now and his players are flying. Kevin Moran was dropping deep and mopped up everything alongside the excellent Austin Gleeson whose performance was typified by a quite brilliant point, direct from a sideline cut.

Michael 'Brick' Walsh rolled back the years and with Pauric Mahony continuing to raise his lofty standards, Waterford supporters have genuine reason to believe again.

To a man, Waterford's players look comfortable in the role they are being asked to play.

It will be interesting to see where Cork and Jimmy Barry-Murphy go from here. I wouldn't dream of ruling a side like Cork out of anything this early in the year but they'll be up against it again the next day.

They knew how Waterford were going to play but they were powerless to stop it. The most worrying aspect of the defeat from a Cork point of view was that they were out-muscled and outfought for every ball.

Seamus Harnedy and Alan Cadogan both picked up what looked like serious injuries. Cork might have to reshuffle their forward line but it's difficult to know who they'll look to.

Waterford will go into the Championship as the only unbeaten team in the country and they are racking up big scores while they are at it.

To score 1-13 in the second half was hugely impressive and they'll rightfully be full of confidence. I don't see Waterford getting carried away but they'll certainly enjoy this.

I think they learned a lot from coming from behind against Tipperary in the semi-final. They've proven that they have the ability to come from behind and win and also lead from the front as they did yesterday.

JBM will have to go back to the drawing board but there won't be any panic buttons being pressed on Leeside just yet.

The real hurling starts when the cuckoo sings and we're a few weeks away from that yet. You can never rule out Cork but they will have to decide what they are going to do with the sweeper system.

They can take a bit of encouragement from the fact they made better use of the ball in the second half but a lot of work needs to be done in training over the next five weeks.

Waterford must build on this and really push on for a Munster title... and maybe even more after that. They are in a really great position to do that.

You'd always expect Kilkenny and Tipperary to be challenging for the All-Ireland but I really think we have another major contender in Waterford now.

Antrim beating Laois was a big shock and that's also good in terms of increasing the level of competition. Laois would have fancied their chances, but fair play to Antrim.

Waterford have been a breath of fresh air so far this year and you need that. They have a loud following and you can be sure there will be more than 18,000 in Thurles on June 5.

It's already shaping to be a cracking year.

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