Tuesday 17 July 2018

Henry Shefflin: Heads-up Deise on a rapid upward curve

Waterford's Austin Gleeson took charge of things in their match against Dublin
Waterford's Austin Gleeson took charge of things in their match against Dublin

Henry Shefflin

I'm more impressed with Waterford every time I see them, and last weekend's victory was another significant statement.

Unlike Cork last Sunday, I felt that Dublin kept going right to the end.

Their work ethic kept them in the game up to half-time, but Waterford just had the wristier hurlers when they needed them.

Austin Gleeson effectively took charge of things in the first 15 minutes of the second half. I'm not sure Dublin had anybody who could do that.

Once Waterford upped their intensity and work-rate, they were always the most likely winners. And I thought they were much better offensively than they'd been in the Munster final.

In that sense, I continue to be impressed with Derek McGrath. He has referenced Waterford doing "subtle things that people might not notice" and I think some of those things were apparent against Dublin.

Stuff like Colin Dunford hurling further up the field, almost like a conventional corner-forward. Or Tadhg de Burca not playing quite as deep as he had against Tipperary.

I also believe Waterford focused on better use of the ball than they had the last day. Look at Maurice Shanahan's great ball in to Shane Bennett for the first goal. Look at Shanahan taking a short free for Jake Dillon to pick a relatively easy score when the initial angle had been difficult.

I suspect that's what McGrath has been drilling into this Waterford team. To lift the heads and use the ball better offensively.

Shanahan was excellent again on the frees. It's almost as if the free-taking duties have been helping his overall game. They're keeping him involved in the game even when not that much ball is coming his way, and Maurice seems to be thriving on this. His finish for the second goal was a real confident finish.

I liked a lot of what I saw of Dublin. There have been rumours of it not being the happiest of camps, but I saw no evidence of that last Sunday. They battled hard right to the end, but it seems to me that there's too much leakage of hurling talent in Dublin between underage and senior.

Too many of their best hurlers are still being navigated towards the football team and I don't think Dublin can afford that. Put it this way, it's not a problem any of the four All-Ireland semi-finalists have to contend with.

Dublin need that extra little bit of quality to push on and the galling thing, I suspect, is that it's right there under their noses.

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