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Here’s Why Yesterday Proved That This Waterford Team Will Win An All-Ireland

Waterford have been the story of the hurling year. Led by an array of young and upcoming talent, Derek McGrath’s men now find themselves preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny.

Yesterday, the Déise bounced back in impressive style after suffering their first defeat of the year at the hands of Tipperary in the Munster final. Led by the magnificent Maurice Shanahan, Waterford beat the Dubs on a scoreline of 2-21 to 1-19.

After utilising a specific system in the Munster championship, Derek McGrath opted to revert to a more traditional set-up yesterday, and it paid dividends as Waterford’s youth showed their flexibility and hurling intelligence to outgun a physical Dublin side.

18-year-old Shane Bennett was in superb form in what was his first championship start. He goaled an unbelievable rocket past Dublin keeper Gary Maguire early on in the second half which set the Déise on their way to victory.

Not only did he grab the vital score, but his work-rate at centre-forward was exemplary. The Ballysaggart man managed a significant amount of hooks, blocks and tackles while he also nullified the dominant figure of Liam Rushe at centre-back.

Bennett, along with team mate Austin Gleeson are both players, who have graduated from the All-Ireland minor winning side of 2013, that are set to dominate games and light up the championship for years to come.

For such a young team, Waterford displayed maturity beyond their years. Calmness and composure in the heat of battle were traits that were evident in yesterday’s display. Tadhg de Búrca didn’t let a shaky start rattle him and the young UCC student went on to dominate proceedings in the second half, earning himself a man-of-the-match nomination from The Sunday Game panelists.

Waterford’s second goal epitomised this composure. After the concession of Mark Schutte’s three-pointer, which brought Ger Cunningham’s side right back in to the fray, it was Waterford who responded with great maturity.

Patrick Curran, 19, latched on to a breaking ball before noticing an over-lap, where many of his age would have tried to go for their own glory. Curran laid it off to Shane Bennett who could have taken his point but decided to put his head down and head for goal. Maurice Shanahan peeled away and inside his marker and was left to finish the sliotar to the back of the net after an inch-perfect handpass from Bennett.

Shanahan’s goal showed more than maturity. It showed a real sense of ruthlessness. The Déise didn’t settle for a point where it would have been the easier option. They were hungry for goals and hungry to beat the opposition by as much as they could. Kilkenny-esque, some might say.

This year has seen Waterford develop a real sense of belief in themselves and what they are about. Aided by a fantastic management team of Derek McGrath, Dan Shanahan and Fintan O’Connor and a hugely talented young crop of players, Waterford seem to be men on a mission.

There were many impressive elements to Waterford’s game yesterday but there was one stand-out moment which demonstrated that Waterford are real title contenders. A free was awarded to Waterford on the 65 yard line under the New Stand. It was a difficult free to convert and instead of taking a shot at the target, Maurice Shanahan found Jake Dillon, who was standing directly in front of the posts, with a delightful pass and Dillon converted with ease.

A real sense of smart hurling and cuteness was on display yesterday.

Waterford showed yesterday that they have the potential to become a remarkable side. Composure, calmness, maturity, ruthlessness, belief and cuteness are traits needed to win All-Ireland’s and along with sheer quality, which they have in abundance, Waterford possess the potential to go on and do great things.

Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.