Part of what makes the week of a big match so special is the endless previews attached to it. You get to hear everyone’s take on how they think the match will go and great debates can be generated.I was listening to Newstalks Off the ball last night with my dad and Eoin Kelly made a good point when he said Waterford needed to get as far as possible in this championship, because you just don’t know what the future holds. He is right and we’ve seen a very good example in Clare, where they have won an All Ireland, and were quite well fancied to win a few more, but have not managed to reach the same heights as 2013. Waterford are on the right track to paving a good future for themselves. Their underage structures are strong, if they weren’t, players like Austin Gleeson, and Tadhg De Burca wouldn’t be lighting up the championship. They have found a gem of a manager in Derek McGrath, and he seems to have put an air of confidence and more importantly, stability within the camp.
The last time, this Waterford team were such a promising position, was probably 2008. Davy Fitzgerald had come in mid-season to refresh their season and they produced the shock of the season when they beat Tipperary in the semi-final. Fast forward to 2015, Tipperary are now the other half of hurling’s Top Two, and Waterford have gone through a transitional period. The old guard has now exited the dressing room and new voices have emerged. The Waterford of 2008 are now well forgotten about.
The confidence that is emanating from this current group of players is impressive. While you always were guaranteed to get a fearless attitude from the Deise, there is real sense that this team will pull off something special, if not this year then maybe in the very near future. The edge they have had over Kilkenny at underage level is nothing to be sniffed at. Whenever you meet a team full of confidence and fully focused on their own game-plan, then you have a dangerous side.
Another key thing is that Waterford seem to be coming into this game with a full deck to choose from, and do not seemed to burdened by injuries, as opposed to Kilkenny who are facing an injury crisis. Now I’ve always been of the opinion that a player could easily get injured on match day then in training, but it’s all to do with luck too. Kilkenny might be under strength as a result of their injuries and that is when Waterford need to go for the jugular.
After all, there is no time like the present.