Home GAA Eoin Larkin Column: Waterford Are Still Not All-Ireland Contenders

Eoin Larkin Column: Waterford Are Still Not All-Ireland Contenders

As a Kilkenny man it was hard not to be disappointed leaving Thurles on Saturday night. 

The Cats needed to come into a bit of form to win this game and, unfortunately, that didn’t happen in Semple Stadium. Waterford played very well on the night and probably should have won in normal time.

Brian Cody’s side did well to bring it to extra-time before ultimately falling short. You have to take your hat off to Kilkenny because they were out-played in all parts of the field for the full game but they still stuck in there and showed what spirit is really in the camp.

Nothing seemed to work out for them really. From the start of the year, they had a few injuries and any changes they made didn’t have the impact that they would have liked and it was the same again on Saturday night.

Before the game it was felt that Richie Hogan had to come back into a bit of form and the service into Colin Fennelly had to be a little bit better and Brian Cody made a change there and brought Colin out the field to try to get more into the game. But if he was left in there, the game would have suited him being at the edge of the square.

The changes didn’t work and the players we needed to step up and have a big game just didn’t have an impact.

Everything went wrong for Kilkenny on Saturday night. They hit some bad wides and took the wrong option a couple of times, shooting under pressure and the right man in the right position didn’t get the ball.

That, ultimately, was the key to it – a lot of lads just under-preformed. They were just hanging in there for large parts of the game. In fairness, you have to give them credit for doing that, it’s very difficult to try and hang in a game when you know it’s going away from you, but everyone that was on the field really fought and they got back into the game.

When Kilkenny got back level, and extra time was looming, it looked like they could push on but it wasn’t to be. In the first couple of minutes in extra time, Jamie Barron caught a ball and ran through two Kilkenny lads and tapped it over the bar – the writing was on the wall after that.

When things are going against you, it’s easy to roll over and lose by eight or nine points – Kilkenny didn’t do that which has to be taken as a positive. They can take huge positives out of that for next year.

It’s what Brian Cody brings to the table: It doesn’t matter if you’re ahead of ten points, or behind by ten points, the attitude is the same. His mantra is that the score only matters at one time – and that’s at the end.

It didn’t matter that they were eight points down, they kept plugging away and deserved to force extra time. Unfortunately they weren’t able to push on.

Despite the win, I don’t think Waterford are serious All-Ireland contenders. I thought before the game that this was their best chance to beat Kilkenny after failing to get over them in so long.

They nearly left it behind them, they had numerous chances to kill off the game.

They will be looking towards their quarter-final happy enough, knowing that they are after getting the monkey off their back. They will move on to Wexford but I can’t see them in Cork’s league or Galway’s league or Tipperary’s league. They are a step below that.

I don’t think they are coming anywhere next or near those three teams.

I was impressed with Cork again, it was a real savage performance against Clare.

They nearly let it slip but they showed massive composure then when the Banner were coming back, to go down the field and get a couple of scores.

I was really impressed with their overall work-rate and the way they used the ball, their cleverness in possession stood out. To be playing as a forward in that team with the ball that they sent in must be a dream to play with. The likes of Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan had the ball bouncing right in front of them – right into their hands – and they were able to do the damage after that.

I thought before the game that they were genuine All-Ireland contenders and I saw nothing yesterday to sway me from that. Tipperary were big winners on Saturday night as well but if Cork keep playing like that, they definitely will win the All-Ireland.

Eoin Larkin, Pundit Arena


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