Waterford gave Kilkenny a second chance. This is something that may teams have rued in the past as Brian Cody’s men have often triumphed in replays. Here we pick out five key figures ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final replay.
1. TJ Reid
This is the man with the biggest scope for improvement in the Kilkenny side. By his high standards, he was poor the last day from open play. While his free taking was impeccable and vital to keeping the Cats in the game, Brian Cody will be expecting a lot more from the current Hurler of the Year. If he can deliver, then Waterford could be in trouble.
2. Richie Hogan
Hogan is another obvious choice. But it his him and the aforementioned Reid that are Kilkenny’s key men in every game they play. Hogan was excellent in the first-half the last day, where he hit 0-4 from play, but he was quiet in the second half. He looked to run out of steam and this is where an extra game may benefit the Cats. Hogan missed large parts through injury and the extra game may help him back to full fitness.
3. Colin Fennelly
Fennelly is another player with room for improvement, but this is in the hooking and blocking stakes. Fennelly’s work rate was a long way off its usual standard in the drawn game and one can expect Brian Cody to have a number of harsh words with him. Don’t be surprised to see Fennelly out around midfield and back in his own half-back line applying the world of pressure on Waterford’s players.
4. Eoin Larkin
He was only introduced as a sub in the drawn game and it would not be a major surprise were Larkin to be thrown in from the start at the expense of Jonjo Farrell or John Power. He looked sharp when coming on and made a big difference to Kilkenny’s performance. Like Fennelly above, Larkin’s primary role in the Kilkenny side is as a worker. Cody will want intensity and pressure levels brought to a new level, like they have done in replays previously. So Eoin Larkin could be a major player.
5. Cillian Buckley
Buckley is chosen as we speculate as to whether Cody will use him in a new role. Will he be given the job of man marking Austin Gleeson? Buckley has the strength, athleticism, aerial and hurling ability to compete with the biggest upcoming name in hurling at the moment. Kieran Joyce ended up being withdrawn the last day. It would make sense for Buckley to mark Gleeson. If it happens, it could be a very influential move.
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