Friday 20 April 2018

Cyril Farrell: Fifteen days and counting down to something special

Galway's Joe Canning. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Galway's Joe Canning. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

I don't know whether Kieran Kingston has watched a re-run of last Sunday's game yet but, if he has, it will made for frustrating viewing.

It's all about the winners in sport so naturally the kudos have been flooding in the Déise's direction. That's fair enough.

There's a huge amount of goodwill around the hurling world towards Waterford, Derek McGrath and a squad that is now within one win of achieving something their predecessors haven't done since 1959.

And if I wasn't from Galway, I would be behind them too. Galway or not, I'm delighted that Austin Gleeson is free to play in the final. That's purely at a human level for the player, his family, club and county. No one wants to see a player missing an All-Ireland final.

Having said that, it's an issue for the GAA that different rules have applied in the case of Tadhg de Búrca, who missed last Sunday's game because of a helmet incident in the quarter-final, and Gleeson, whose offence was actually more obvious. If the referee says he made a call on the Gleeson incident, then he didn't apply the rule as worded.

A referee can make a mistake but it's wrong that the disciplinary authorities can't intervene and say, 'You got that wrong, we'll take it from here.' A small change in the rules would sort that out.

Anyway, back to Kingston reflecting on last Sunday and Micheál Donoghue studying the DVD to see what he can learn for the final.

Both will have noticed that it was still anyone's game when Damien Cahalane was sent off. Even then, Cork were going well until Christopher Joyce made the mistake that led to Jamie Barron's first goal. Gleeson quite often goes for his own shot but this time he popped a pass to Barron who fired home. Barron is very good at making that type of run.

You won't see it on TV but he does it regularly and while it often comes to nothing, there are times when it does. Last Sunday was one of them.

Donoghue will certainly be discussing Mr B in his tactical talks. Inevitably, Waterford's set-up drew lots of praise when they won (McGrath ships some nasty criticism when it doesn't) but Cork's essentially straight-up approach did well enough to have them ahead at the three-quarter stage, despite some big names not playing well. So it wasn't as if Cork were outmanoeuvred tactically.

Donoghue will have noted that. The usual debate among supporters before teams play Waterford centres on how they will cope with McGrath's structure.

Agenda

If I were in charge of a team, I'd be saying: 'How will Waterford cope with what we throw at them? Let's not be talking about them setting the agenda.'

Look back at last year's Munster final. Tipperary played very cleverly against Waterford, going for them straight down the middle.

Tipp's forwards didn't always try to win the ball in the air, instead knocking it down and starting a ground war, with others running through to support. It worked brilliantly.

Galway will probably try something similar. Also, no opposition can afford to allow Waterford work their way out of defence with slick passing movements as Cork did at times last Sunday. You've got to be in their faces all the time.

McGrath will be looking at Galway and thinking, 'We led these guys by ten points in the league quarter-final last April so let's have more of that'.

He knows exactly how he wants his squad to play. His tactic of adding real pace off the subs' bench in the second half has worked well but then Galway have strong back-up too so I don't think there's much advantage either way there.

Ironically, it was the league quarter-final that changed Galway's season. They recovered from the 10-point deficit to win by three and haven't looked back since then.

Similarly, Waterford recovered from the Munster semi-final defeat by Cork to plot a way to the All-Ireland final. Fifteen days and counting to the big day - it's going to be special.

Irish Independent

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