Waterford fell at the final hurdle in a game that looked like theirs. Having out-fought and out-hurled their opponents, they managed to get their noses in front with ten minutes to go. A three-point lead is not an easy one to hold, however, and Cork came good at the end thanks to their substitutions and to Waterford’s loss of Shane Walsh (surely one of the most exciting new additions to the team).
It could have all been so different for hurling books and fans of Waterford hurling if substitute Eoin McGrath had managed to grasp the ball that was knocked into him. He had the goal pretty much at his mercy but in tight games, it all comes down to millimetres. That fumble was a turning point, you felt, and so it was to be.
Cork stepped things up a gear from that point on and you always felt that the pendulum simply wouldn’t swing back in favour of Waterford in the time that was left.
A lot of positives are to be taken from this campaign. Waterford were there or thereabouts in all the important games. Michael Ryan and Co have re-instilled the county team with a lot of the virtues that we have associated with Deise hurling. They are playing with some skill. The big men have come through on the big days and we have seen the introduction of some exciting new players, as well as making use of experience (Tony Browne, of course – a star of the championship still).
Roll on next year, when we’ll hopefully have figured out a plan to get those vital goals when they’re needed so as to finish off the opposition.
“My Father: A Hurling Revolutionary, the life and times of Ned Power” was released in November 2009 and was long-listed for the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year in 2010. Click here for further information, pre-order and excerpt.