A confident Cork are one of the most dangerous teams around. That’s what Waterford are up against in Thurles.
However, one worry for Kieran Kingston must be consistency; something they’ve been lacking so far this year.
If Cork don’t keep their level of consistency up, Waterford could win the game comfortably.
They’ll obviously be looking for another performance like the one we saw against Tipperary, and if they can hit those levels, Waterford could be in trouble.
The extra game will benefit the Rebels to no end. They have their confidence up, but need to prepare mentally. All the physical work is done. If they can get their heads right, keep their feet on the ground, and put in a hard shift, all the advantages are with them.
The Déise really don’t where they are at the moment, after a mixed League campaign in the latter stages, and Cork went down to Walsh Park and won.
There are suggestions that they weren’t taking the League seriously, but I’m not sure. Hurling with Kilkenny, we never sat down and said together that we’re not going to give the League a good shot.
We always went out to do our best.
When the League is over, and looking back on it, perhaps you could say Waterford’s hearts and heads weren’t in it. I don’t think that comes from the management. I know Derek McGrath made a few changes in a few games, but that was to see what kind of a level a panel they had.
Focus has to come from the mind, and from the players’ minds more than anything.
It’s going to be hard after having a poor enough League campaign, to come out the first game of the championship and set the world alight.
Waterford will really need a good performance to beat Cork.
Cork showed real steel against Tipp, especially from their halfback line in Mark Ellis and Mark Coleman, they attacked at every opportunity. They were driving down the field, inviting a man on and then popping a pass. Even a quality ball into their inside line of Alan Cadogan, Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan; you don’t get much more lethal than that.
Waterford probably will play the sweeper, but I don’t think they’ll play it for the full 70 minutes of the match. If things aren’t going well for them, they will drag back Tadhg de Búrca into that sweeper role.
If things are going well for them, I’d expect them to stay in an orthodox pattern.
But we will see the sweeper at some stage, and that’s where Cork need to be really cute, that’s where the halfback line can come into play.
If you start driving forward with the ball, picking balls into the full forward line from out the field, Tadhg de Búrca is probably the best in the country at reading those, so they need to be really cute and really switched on to combat the sweeper if that’s what Waterford employ.
I fancy Cork, on the basis of the Tipperary game, how they played that day, the physicality and attitude they showed.
Their forwards really came of age the last day. Their half forward line is young enough – Shane Kingston and Luke Meade stepped up and made meaningful contributions, and Conor Lehane got a few more scores.
That’s where you need to dominate, in the middle third, and that’s where they had a field day against Tipp. Dominating the two Maher brothers was no mean feat.
With those young lads to coming in, it gives them real confidence to drive onto a Munster final.
Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man podcast, where we look ahead to all the weekend’s action, and hear from Derek McGrath as we preview Cork vs Waterford.