Tony Browne: Waterford's sweeper will bring All-Ireland joy

Tony Browne, the 1998 hurler of the year, believes that this year’s All-Ireland final will be won with a sweeper.

The Mount Sion great was speaking at the Club Déise All Ireland preview event in the Granville Hotel last night.

“Like it or lump it, this All-Ireland final will be won with a sweeper. It’s been four years in the making. We’ve had ups and downs. There’s no team better than us with this system. It’s their time.”

Browne also reflected on Waterford’s last final appearance, a 3-30 to 1-13 loss to Kilkenny.

“2007 was when we peaked. We just got there at the wrong time. 2008 when we beat Tipperary, we had a sense of achievement. It was almost like climbing Everest. We had played our All-Ireland final in the semi-final.”

Former Cork boss Donal O’Grady claimed the system is both defensive and offensive. He warned however that Galway are best equipped to score from out the field and faced a similar structure in the Leinster final.

Current Clare selector Dónal Óg Cusack added that Waterford are playing to their strengths. “Any innovation in the game has been hammered for the sake of hammering it. There has been a touch of hurling imperalism.”

Kilkenny legend DJ Carey said that he would hate to be a corner-forward in today’s game but admires the way that Waterford have perfected their style of play.

Earlier in the night, Derek McGrath told MC Kieran O’Connor that he was considering the Waterford job from as far back as 2012.

“I was eyeing it, there’s no point denying it! I didn’t say anything to anyone for a while, yet I prepared diligently for the interview process.”

He said that he encountered self-doubt towards the end of the 2014 league.

“It was a difficult couple of weeks from March into April when we were beaten comprehensively by Clare and Kilkenny and beaten in a relegation play-off. We were heading away to Portugal. Someone sent into a chat show that I wouldn’t send them to Bonmahon never mind Portugal!”

He admitted that some of the criticism of Waterford’s system affects him. “Sometimes it does. It’s not to the point where it becomes an eye for an eye. If it’s hurtful, you have to feel it first and then you park it. I found it ironic that in the midst of the Tadhg saga I had 2,500 texts looking to make sure that he was available for the last day.”

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