Editor’s note: John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts on the 2016 Hurling championship. In John’s latest post, he takes a closer look at the All Ireland Hurling Semi – Final replay between Kilkenny and Waterford.
Everyone has been asking about whether the point should have stood that hawk eye ruled wide at the end for Waterford?
Hawk eye, good old hawk eye! Sometimes I wonder is he related to anyone in Kilkenny. He certainly has been good to Kilkenny over the years at critical stages in big games. I think overall hawk eye is good for the game and adds to the drama and if hawk eye says it either a ‘Nil’ or a ‘Ta’ we have to take his word on it.
Do you think that 7 of Kilkenny players will again play below par in the replay on Saturday?
I can’t answer for any of the seven players but I know if it was me I would be chomping at the bit to atone for any below par performances. The players will know themselves that they underperformed and will want to right the wrong’s for this game. Some of these individuals could be the deciding factor of this game and could be the match winners.
Do you think that Waterford can match the intensity again?
They 100% can! They have now proven twice this year that they can match Kilkenny in the physical stakes and go toe to toe with them. We’ve seen in the league encounter last February and likewise last Sunday. The majority of Waterford players played to their ability and to a high level and you’d suspect if Waterford were to win the game that those players will have to perform at a eight or nine to overcome Kilkenny. If there is to be an improvement in this game you’d think that it is going to come from Kilkenny. As we alluded to earlier, there is room for improvement which Cody is capable of getting from his lads.
Where do you think Gleeson’s ideal position is? Where do you think he’ll be playing on Saturday?
I don’t really know to be honest. As I said in the previous post this lad is a free flowing genius and he is on the upward curve of becoming the greatest player this county has ever produced. Gleeson could play anywhere but for me it’s either six or number eleven. I really liked the way he performed at number eleven last Sunday in that Richie Hogan style of a role and scoring five points from play. He also takes an awful lot of watching at centre forward and opens up the gaps else where for Waterford to go and expose.
Do you think Kilkenny will start with the same team?
Absolutely no chance! You just don’t know what Brian Cody has up his sleeve but I maintain that there will be two or three changes for Saturday. Eoin Larkin is sure to start after impressing last Sunday when introduced. Leister Ryan may start and we may also see one switch in their back line. I suspect anything up to three changes for Saturday’s big game.
Do you think that Fives will be back and if so will he make a difference?
Nobody seems to know the extent of how serious Darragh’s injury is. If he was fit, he would be a massive addition to Waterford but I don’t think the management would take the risk and take any chances with him.
Goals win games and Waterford are finding it difficult to get them. Why have all the goals dried up for them?
Waterford’s play is designed around getting a high percentage of points. Last Sunday they scored 24 points and on any given day 23 or 24 points will win most games. There will come a day when Waterford will open up and score a goal or two. Once the wide deficit is quite low they will remain hard to beat. On the flip side of this once Waterford don’t concede anything over 1.5 goals they have a great chance in any game against any opponent.
If you also look at Kilkenny they are only averaging 1 goal per game in the last four to five games. When Kilkenny are winning games they are winning by scoring twenty points or more. Once Waterford go into that range of 24 points they will go a long way of winning the match. Particularly at this stage of the year where scores are at a minimum and hard to come by under pressure.
Pauric Mahony scored 14 points in last weeks game, 9 coming from frees conceded. Kilkenny simply can’t give away frees as this man can score from anywhere!
I think you need to take into account TJ Reid got 10 frees and is also very accurate. Both management teams will be looking at getting the free deficit down.
Do Waterford have anything else to give after their exceptional performance last week?
I actually think that Waterford will relish this and the game will have given them the believe and confidence to match and go and beat Kilkenny. They now realise that there’s nothing to fear. The venue will be a big part and I think that Thurles will actually suit Waterford better because they are more accustomed to playing in Semple Stadium. The atmosphere is going to be electric and there will be a massive crowd there on Saturday night. There will be anything between 40,000 to 45,000 fans. All in all, where in for a great occasion again and it will be another close encounter.
As I said I last week, expectation levels where low but I think exceptions around the county have risen from last Sunday’s performance. It’s how Waterford will be cope with those expectation levels?