'Waterford are not the Donegal of hurling' - what we learned from Munster semi-final
Waterford booked their place in the Munster Final with a second win over Jimmy barry-Murphy's Cork in five weeks. Here is what we learned from today's encounter in Thurles.
Waterford are quite simply a better team than Cork
Over the past six weeks this writer has regularly tipped against Waterford in big games. Whilst fully appreciating what they have achieved this season, yours truly has been guilty of leaning away from the Decies and towards tradition.
For the National League semi-final, the final and today's Munster semi-final the feeling was that their opponents would have learned enough of their system to be able to counteract it. I also felt that their inexperience would at some stage tell.
But with every passing game these theories are being ridiculed. Waterford average 22 points a game and are still the only unbeaten hurling team in the country. They also did it this afternoon without their talisman Pauric Mahony.
They are some team. And real championship contenders. I'll think twice before tipping against them next time.
Maurice is set to light up the summer
His brother, the hugely enthusiastic Waterford selector Dan, may have clocked up just as much mileage but 1-9 from Maurice Shanahan was some return for a guy who had been out of the county jersey for some time.
Aside from that healthy tally, he created two or three more points for his teamates. His goal was a thing of beauty, taken straight from his big brother's playbook and you can tell from the responsibility he showed with the free-taking duties that he is set for a fine season.
By the way, it doesn't happen by accident - he was in Thurles last week practising his free-taking in the absence of Mahony.
Waterford have a fine bench to call upon
Tom Devine and Shane Bennett made some impact when they came on. They provided vital support for the starting 15 and more tellingly it gives the side a great chance of winning silverware.
With their game plan demanding so much and so many of their starters looking weary by the end it is imperative that Derek McGrath has gallant reserves to call upon.
He certainly has as today's game showed. As for Bennett, he faces into his Leaving Cert Irish exam tomorrow morning.
Waterford are certainly not the Donegal of hurling
We expected Cork to roar their tradition from the rooftops and come out to show their real form this afternoon. They started like lightning but Waterford, far from retreating into their shells, clicked and started easing through the gears.
Their system started to flow, they found overlaps and they banged in delightful goals. They scored 3-19 today and they shot 14 wides.
They are splendid to watch, the form team in the country and their touch and intensity are tremendous.
When Cork needed someone to step up there was no one there
We're excluding Pa Cronin who hit 0-5 in a cracking display from start to finish. Cronin has been much maligned over the years, has suffered with injury too, and didn't score last year but today he was - along with Anthony Nash - perhaps the only player to stand up.
Worryingly, when the game was in the melting pot - and it was within reach for most of the second half - there was a serious lack of leadership from the Rebels.
Their two midfielders were taken off and that's a damning stat.