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‘Waterford are probably best equipped to take on Limerick’ – John Mullane backs Deise to challenge in 2022


Cathrach Daly is one of Waterford's up and coming players that John Mullane believes could make an impact in 2022. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cathrach Daly is one of Waterford's up and coming players that John Mullane believes could make an impact in 2022. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cathrach Daly is one of Waterford's up and coming players that John Mullane believes could make an impact in 2022. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

After finally clinching back-to-back Liam MacCarthys for the first time in their history, it’s time for Limerick to bask in their latest success.

Unlike after 2020’s triumph, the title will reside by the Shannon for the next 12 months rather than the eight that last year’s Christmas final restricted their reign to.

But those extra four months will also give an extra third of a year for their rivals to try and figure out how to stop what looks like a green juggernaut from making it three-in-a-row and four in five years.

And having seen off the last two All-Ireland winners outside of Limerick, John Mullane sees his own native county as the tean best placed for the challenge, despite the rumours they'll be looking for a new manager themselves.

“I'll be straight up and I'm not just saying it because they're my own county. I think Waterford are probably the best equipped side to possibly take on Limerick and close that gap,” the Déise.legend told Independent.ie’s The Throw-In podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy, as he tried to park any sense of bias.

“I think (Tadhg) de Búrca is coming back, you've a couple of lads, Carthach and Iarlaith Daly. The two Fitzgeralds, Mark from Passage, and Patrick will probably come into the mix. So I think they're strengthening and Waterford will have a very strong panel.

“Now there's murmurings going around about Liam Cahiil's future, the talk that he could be going back to Tipperary. If that's the case, Waterford will have to go and look for another manager.

“But I think it will be a very, very attractive job for whoever will go after it. I think there'll be a lot of people interested in the job and probably an awful lot of outside people will be interested in it.

“Waterford, when they reflect on the year, they beat Tipperary, they beat Galway.”

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While the uncertainty around Cahill’s future certainly has the potential to destablise a side on a clear upward curve over the last two years, expecting him to have an immediate impact with Tipperary in terms of the All-Ireland series is possibly a stretch, especially given that Brendan Maher’s retirement may well be followed by others from their 2019 title-winning squad.

But the Premier won’t be the only team looking into a period of transition.

A Joe Canning-less Galway will look back on his final year as a chance missed and again, a revamp is probably on the cards. It’s also generally accepted that by even having the current Kilkenny panel as perennial challengers at the business end of the season, Brian Cody is wringing as much as he can out of his squad.

And although Cork will eventually look back on the year as one of immense progress, including minor and U20 All-Irelands, Mullane feels the manner of Sunday’s defeat may be enough to hamper their progress as they look to integrate the best of those underage players.

“I think Galway and Tipperary are probably looking at a rebuild job,” Mullane continued.

“For me, I think Kilkenny dodged a bullet at the weekend, I honestly do. Now possibly they mightn't have been as naive as Cork and probably would have been more defensive minded. But I certainly think Limericks would have been eager to do a job on Kilkenny in relation to the semi-final defeat of 2019.

“You go to the whole hurling landscape outside of Limerick. Cork, I think that defeat is a bit of a setback for them albeit coming off the U20 success.

“From Kieran Kingston's point of view, he's got to introduce a couple more lads from that U20 setup. If it means rebuilding and trying to win an All-Ireland in two or three years time you got to get them lads in now and get them on the strength and conditioning programmes.

“Clare had a very good year under Brian Lohan and Wexford are looking for a new manager.

“Someone like Dublin might look at it. They had a good bit of underage success there with the U20s. If they can introduce a couple of their U20s, they might put their hands up next year and maybe go and challenge and try and win a Leinster title but there's not a whole lot out there.

“So Waterford are the one team that are probably best equipped to go and challenge.”

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