'Last weekend was the time to draw the Cats' - John Mullane on Waterford-Kilkenny clash
Kilkenny's messy victory over Limerick persuaded very few that Brian Cody's team are back in the full of their health.
While the backs were dogged and alert, their forwards continue to misfire, with Richie Hogan evidently suffering from hurling's version of the yips.
In the end they can only be thankful for the Limerick forward line and their prodigious capacity for hitting wides.
And we learned yesterday that it's Waterford who are coming down the tracks at them.
On the one hand, Kilkenny clearly are in some form of transition, fielding a XV comprised of fast-ageing greats and callow youths.
On the other hand, Waterford have a nasty psychological hurdle to overcome. They haven't beaten Kilkenny in the championship in 58 years and have suffered both agonisingly narrow defeats and one-sided maulings in the intervening years.
Speaking on Independent.ie's The Throw-In podcast, John Mullane admits he'd have preferred to meet Kilkenny last Saturday. But he's still confident ahead of next weekend's duel in Thurles.
"I'd prefer to have drawn them in Round One. I thought last weekend was the weekend to pull Kilkenny out of the hat. I'm still confident the lads can go and get the job done on Saturday night.
"But I think last Saturday night Kilkenny were there for the taking. There was a bit of uncertainty and vulnerability.
"But now, they've 70 minutes into Michael Fennelly. They're going to have a wounded Richie Hogan, a wounded Colin Fennelly. I think Kevin Kelly will come into the team and they'll have their best XV out. It's a mouth watering prospect on Saturday night.
"As soon as the draw was made this morning, I had lads texting me saying, 'bring it on.'
"Waterford-Kilkenny takes on a life of its own, even though we've never beaten them since 1959. We're still waiting for that famous victory. Please God it can happen on Saturday night."
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