Saturday, June 13, 2009

Limerick v Waterford preview

Well it's all about the Deise seeking to atone for the All-Ireland calamity isn't it? Or about Justin McCarthy looking to put one over the players that shafted him surely? One wonders though whether there is something of an over-simplification going on here from a media that is attuned to analyse soccer and rugby more rigorously. Although it would not be the minority opinion, this column thinks the Waterford underachievement in last years final has been overstated. If they did underperform, in any case it was in contrast to what they had achieved in previous seasons, rather than their output on the road to the final. Perhaps there is still an unwillingness, as your blogger has previously stated, to fully appreciate the true wonder of the Kilkenny '08 model. Also is Justin, truly the type to be banging sliotars off the dressing room wall to rouse his new charges into a more heightened sense of dudgeon. It was easy, when the draw was made, to look at the game from afar and see that a case of 'what goes around comes around would await the Waterford players. Over seven months on and Stephen Molumphy is not off defending President and Country in foreign climes. Tony Browne is also still available if needed, so a simple scrutiny of both sides firepower might be the best way to unlock the key to the match.

The common and mostly correct perception about Waterford down the years was that they were always struggling to have a bulletproof starting xv and had little depth beyond the first 18 or so. This has certainly changed but conversely one would have serious doubts whether any starting combination this summer can hit the heights of the 2004-2007 period. One can imagine in an AvB training game that the second string of say, Browne, James Murray and newcomer Richie Foley could outshine what has been selected for Sunday. Aidan Kearney's switch to wing-back is slightly curious since he didn't look in obvious need of a change in scenery. On the other flank Kevin Moran, albeit solid last year, still looks like he may require a central position to achieve his optimum. Brick Walsh's move to centre-back hasn't received much appraisal, but at some point tomorrow Waterford fans might hark back wistfully to Ken McGrath's superior stickwork in the position. In fairness to Walsh his aerial prowess not being utilised at mid-field.

For Limerick the selected team doesn't appear to have the settled air one would have hoped for this far into Justin's tutelage. If Stephen Lucey's torpor last season is to put down as an aberration the worry is that he is now serving the football master also. Overall the defence as a whole doesn't seem strong enough to banish doubts that Seamus Hickey won't be missed. Albeit that, with Hickey's switch to midfield, he is being assigned a position where he excelled in the 2005 All-Ireland minor final. Injury and depreciation mean that three of the forward line that played in the senior final two years ago wont even tog out tomorrow. Nothing that James O'Brien and Championship newcomer James Ryan have heretofore shown has indicated that they are likely to hit the ground running. Niall Moran had a upwardly mobile league but his last summer performance against Offaly in the qualifiers elicted howls of derision from the demanding Limerick supporters. His older brother Ollie could be undercooked after injury whilst Andrew O' Shaugnessy didnt convince in the spring after the opening game.

Since this corner of the interweb doesn't think that Waterford's brains will be too frazzled solely by what happened last September they logically, given that John Mullane is fit, they have enough firepower and options from the bench to find the answers for any adhesive questions Limerick might doggedly provide.

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