Shock Galway victory puts Tipp on red alert
GALWAY did the hurling championship some service by beating Kilkenny last Sunday, but sinking the favourites with such a dramatic flourish may turn out to be bad news for Waterford.
Many people will think that the opposite is the case on the basis that if Galway can overturn Kilkenny, it will give Waterford added impetus against Tipperary, but I don't see it that way. Sure, Michael Ryan can use the Leinster final upset as an encouragement to his players but, on the other hand, think of what Declan Ryan will be saying in the Tipperary dressing-room.
He'll be stressing the importance of not taking anything for granted, even if Tipp did beat the Deise by seven goals in last year's Munster final. I'm not suggesting that Kilkenny were in any way over-confident going into the Galway game but, at the same time, Declan can use the Leinster final as an example of a game which took on a life of its own once the outsiders asserted themselves early on.
The two Ryans know that there was a freakish dimension to last year's Munster final. Declan was able to enjoy it from the sideline as Tipperary's four-goal burst just before half-time shattered Waterford, while Michael was no doubt watching from the stands and, like every other Waterford supporter, wondering how it had all gone so wrong.
Tomorrow, he will be running the line as Waterford boss and hoping that his players will enact the training-ground plans designed to restrict the Tipp attack. Lar Corbett's return makes that task all the harder, but Waterford will be encouraged by the manner in which Cork restricted Tipperary to a single goal.
Speaking of Lar, what does it say about all the training that's going on nowadays when a player who wasn't involved with club or county until May can force his way into the starting line-up for a provincial final? Granted, Corbett has a special talent, but you have to wonder about all the early-season hard labour which counties deploy nowadays.
When teams are successful, it's hailed as being absolutely necessary, but is it? Don't many losing teams train just as hard, so why doesn't it work for them?
Anyway, back to the Munster final where, all-round talent apart, I suspect that Tipperary's extra championship game may be a big help. They beat Limerick in a close call in late May, saw off Cork in an even closer finish in late June, so they should be at peak conditioning now. Waterford have only had one game since the end of the National League and while it was a real battle with Clare, it's still an outing less than Tipperary.
Mind you, there were encouraging signs for Waterford that day. Lads like Kevin Moran, Stephen Molumphy, Seamus Prendergast, John Mullane and Michael 'Brick' Walsh did really well and, as has been shown with Waterford over many years, when the lead acts perform, the rest usually follow. Now they have Tony Browne back to add to the influential mix.
On the basis of Tipperary's two championship games to date, Waterford will fancy their chances of making some progress against the full-back line but, as we saw last Sunday, things can change very quickly.
Who would have thought that both Westmeath and Offaly would score more against Galway than Kilkenny? It happened, though. It's safe to assume that Waterford won't concede seven goals this time and will make this a really competitive game. But Tipp have the firepower to score enough to retain the title and, in all probability, set themselves up for an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Kilkenny. It's some reward for winning the Munster final!
kilkenny's response the mark of true champions
KILKENNY's response to last Sunday's defeat shows why they are such true champions. Because of the emotion of the occasion, the presentation took longer than usual, but the Kilkenny squad stayed on the pitch right through it. Nor were there any complaints or excuses afterwards.
Patiently, if painfully, watching Galway take the cup could, in its own way, have been a worthwhile experience for Kilkenny as it focused on a sense of loss which can be harnessed for the relaunch. It was interesting too how Kilkenny decided to go ahead with club games this weekend rather than cancel them as many counties would have done.
The message was clear: business as usual, go back to your clubs, hurl last Sunday's memories out of the system and see you on Monday for the second part of the season.
Last Sunday's result was good for the championship, but it would be daft to think it has changed everything because ultimately it comes down to this: Kilkenny are still favourites for the All-Ireland for the simple reason that one defeat doesn't destroy what they have built over such a long period.
Nor does one indifferent season spell the end for this Dublin team either. They need to reflect, refocus and go again next year, hopefully with Anthony Daly still in charge. Changing manager at this stage is definitely not what Dublin need.