Home GAA Eoin Larkin Column: Waterford Finally Flourished But Real Cork Didn’t Show Up

Eoin Larkin Column: Waterford Finally Flourished But Real Cork Didn’t Show Up

I wasn’t expecting Waterford to beat Cork. After the performances that the Rebels showed throughout the Munster Championship, I really thought they were going to push on and reach the All-Ireland final.

The real Cork, the one that we saw in the Munster Championship, didn’t show up when the real pressure came on. They faltered quite badly.

That’s not to take away from the Déise’s performance. I was one of the biggest critics of the sweeper system, but boy did they show massive energy. They fought for every ball. Things got a bit heated at times, but you need to be up to that in championship hurling. Sometimes, you cross the line, but they won’t be too worried about that now, they’re the ones in an All-Ireland final.

It was a fantastic performance.

Austin Gleeson Waterford

Everyone has their own opinion on the sweeper system. Personally, I just don’t like it, but when you’re looking at that game, it didn’t look like they had a sweeper. They just seemed to defend in numbers, and attack in numbers.

Austin Gleeson was in the backs at one stage, then he burst up and got a goal. Jamie Barron was the same, he was all over the field.

Their energy levels were phenomenal in the end, defending as a team and attacking as a team.

They were able to pick out the one or two forwards who were in there with good ball, and were up quickly to support them as well.

Any team looking to get to the top could take great confidence looking at Waterford. If you have all these virtues you can do just about anything in hurling.

Austin Gleeson

He’ll be very lucky to get away with it, especially after the coverage the issue is after getting in the last number of weeks. That ball was gone out of play, and Gleeson pulled Meade’s helmet off.

He gets involved in silly things. He was after getting a great block-down. He goes off, grabs a helmet and pulls it.

We’ll just have to wait and see what decision the GAA come to.

If Tadhg de Búrca gets a one match ban for it, for what I would consider not to have been deliberate, Austin Gleeson’s one was definitely deliberate.

Obviously, if he’s not playing, it’s going to be a huge loss. They’re going to be missing Conor Gleeson as well after his straight red card.

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 13/8/2017 Cork vs Waterford Cork’s Patrick Horgan and Shane Fives of Waterford Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

The final

Waterford aren’t thinking about opposition. They’re focusing on themselves, on the system they have in place, and we’ll see if they can get the energy levels we saw yesterday on a regular basis.

They came across to me as they were hurling with absolute freedom; they had no fear and were able to rely on each other. When you have that in a team, there’s no need to worry about getting exposed. They just hunted the ball down, in packs.

It’s a very hard system to break down.

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 13/8/2017 Cork vs Waterford Waterford manager Derek McGrath Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Rebel woes

Possibly the five-week gap didn’t help them, but this Waterford team have been around the block the last few years.

The Déise knew that when the pressure came on, that they could perform. That’s ultimately where Cork failed. They just didn’t have the experience of the Waterford team over the last number of years.

That was their first semi-final since 2014, but they’ll learn from this. Maybe we were expecting too much from what s a young side.They’ll want to progress next year. They are Munster champions, and will be eager to retain that title. If they get back to Croker next year, this loss will stand to them.

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Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man, where we review Waterford’s win over Cork, hearing from Derek McGrath, Dan Shanahan and Kieran Kingston.

About Eoin Larkin

Eoin Larkin
Eoin Larkin is a former inter-county hurler for Kilkenny. Playing with the Cats for twelve seasons the James Stephens clubman won ten Leinster titles, eight All-Ireland Hurling Championships and two All Star awards.

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