Editor’s note: John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts on the 2017 Hurling championship. In John’s latest post, he takes a closer look at The Munster Hurling clash where Cork bet Tipperary by four points.
Not since 1959 had Waterford defeated Kilkenny in the Championship. Did you see this coming?
100% yes! I suggested a tie against the cats was the fixture to get the show back on the road. Granted a loss would have been a massive set back going forward and would have resulted in an early Championship exist. The price of a historic win would result in the galvanisation of the county of the Cork set back and would breath massive confidence into the squad and management going forward for the rest of the All Ireland series. I was confident that the latter would unfold and thankfully it resulted in the most memorable night not to be forgotten.
Inevitably the experience of warriors like Kevin Moran and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh mattered deeply, but Waterford had key contributors all over the field. Who do you think individually played well?
Two warriors who were written off but by god did they lead the way like they have done time and time again. Outside of the two lads, it was night were the entire team and panel contributed to the performance. It was real squad effort that everyone bought into. For me Jamie Barron, Tadhg de Burca and Austin Gleeson had the stand out moments of this game. However the most pleasing thing for me to see was the performance of a fully fit Darragh Fives and just highlighted how important it is for Darragh to stay fit for the rest of the year.
Kilkenny’s character will rarely be questioned but do you think they lacked it on Saturday? Is that where it went wrong for them?
Absolutely not. Kilkenny showed plenty of character no more so than the character they showed in the last 10 minute of the match were they fought tooth and nail to the end. They showed all the characteristics you’d associate with all the great Kilkenny teams in the past. They’ve had glorious years but like everything it has to come to and end! If Kilkenny supporters can take anything from the game is that their team kept fighting to the end.
Both sides were guilty of some poor long-range passing out of defence, Waterford were having better luck than Kilkenny in terms of getting the ball to their inside forwards. Do you think this made the difference in the end?
What was evident is that the match was played on Waterford’s terms, not Kilkenny terms. You could see this from the amount of green grass Kilkenny were happy to give up compared to Waterford who has a packed defence and plenty of protection in the back line. Waterford were happy work the ball out of defence and then work it into space. On the flip side Kilkenny went down the route of sending long direct with the ball into their forwards which were smuddered by a Waterford defence.
Winning in such a manner could yet be a defining moment for this Waterford team. Do you think they are contenders for the All Ireland now?