Martin Breheny: What did Déise do to deserve such hits?
Waterford didn't fancy the new round-robin provincial hurling championship format from the start, and they have even less reason to like it now.
Their prospects of surviving Munster's landmined terrain appear to have all but evaporated after being hit with an injury (Tadhg De Burca, Barry Coughlan, Darragh Fives, Noel Connors, Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony, Maurice Shanahan), suspension (Kevin Moran) and unavailability (Kieran and Shane Bennett) epidemic.
Even finishing in the top three was always going to be difficult but it, too, looks beyond their reach.
Ironically, they would have been better off under the old system when an early exit from Munster was followed by a few-week break before entering the qualifiers against one of Leinster's weaker teams.
Instead, Waterford - who are alone among all 16 counties in the All-Ireland tier with no home games - face Tipperary, Limerick and Cork over the next three weekends.
The combination of setbacks is the cruellest of bad luck for the Déise, who were hoping to build on last year's run to the All-Ireland final.
It's particularly disappointing for 'Brick' Walsh in what is almost certainly his last year at inter-county level. Aged 35, he took his remarkable career into a 16th season, obviously in the belief that Waterford could complete last season's unfinished business. It now looks a very long shot, so the next few weekends could be the last time hurling fans get to appreciate 'Brick' in a Waterford jersey.
Really, the Waterford players, management and supporters must be wondering why their luck has taken such a turn for the worse. It could hardly be any worse if they smashed mirrors under ladders with black cats crossing in front of them.
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