When Waterford beat Tipperary in the league in Walsh Park in June, Dessie Hutchinson was absolutely on fire, scoring two unbelievable goals.
Barrett is the only man Tipp have to try and limit that threat, especially with Dessie’s pace. You may even see Dessie inside on his own at full-forward, which is how Waterford tried to utilise him last Saturday. Dessie had two men on him most times the ball went in but the big difference between last Saturday, and the Clare game, was the quality of ball coming his way.
Some of the ball Dessie got in the Clare game was atrocious, which gave him no chance against Rory Hayes and company. But Dessie showed against Galway that if the quality of delivery is any way decent, he can take out two men. Barrett will feel he can get the job done on his own but will need help from his team-mates outside him.
Unless Tipp put the clampers on Jamie Barron here, they’ll struggle to win this game.
Noel McGrath or Brendan Maher won’t have the legs for him, and I’m expecting a guy like Dan McCormack to step up and take on that challenge.
There’s no better man than Dan who – like Barrett – is becoming Tipp’s go-to-guy when targeting the opposition’s big men. Dan did a fair job on Cian Lynch in the Munster final before Lynch – and Limerick as a whole – eventually wore him down. To me, this is the key match-up Tipp have to get right.
The biggest question for me here is how have Tipp recovered – as much mentally as physically – since their second half collapse in the Munster final? Tipp played hurling in the first 35 minutes that afternoon that we didn’t think any team was capable of producing against Limerick. Tipp know they can make the ball talk but can they keep the magic show going for 70 minutes?
Tactics will play a large part in this game, especially with the brains trust in both backroom teams, but I don’t see this game being as tactical as the Cork-Dublin match.
This game will be decided by raw desire and emotion, and mental staying power. Can Waterford rediscover their relentless form for three quarters of last Saturday’s match, and keep it going to the end? Can Tipp keep it going, full stop? Tipp will want to free up space in their own half for their shooters, whereas Waterford will want to open up the channels for their running game. When the sides met in the league in Walsh Park, Waterford ran Tipp into the ground so Tipp will be looking to stop those runs at source, especially in the middle third. A lot of teams are flooding the middle to try and counter the Limerick style but it’s as important to get the individual battles right. Every team has two wing-forwards going back and they’re all used to playing that role, but if I was back managing in the game now, I’d still be looking at getting those individual match-ups right.
That team that wins the majority of those contests around the middle third will win this match.
There is a line of thinking that Waterford can’t win an All-Ireland without Tadgh de Burca and Stephen O’Keeffe but this is not about winning All-Irelands – this is about getting over the line in a big derby in an All-Ireland quarter-final. I think the experience of last year will really stand to Waterford. Everyone was saying that the best game that Limerick got last year was against Galway, but I felt that the toughest challenge Limerick met in 2020 was against Waterford in the Munster final. The manner of the All-Ireland defeat clouded that performance but that display showed how good Waterford can be, and I think they will really draw on that experience here.
Waterford will look to set a relentless and fast tempo with their running game from the first ball.
Tipp will show the defiance of great men but can they live with that pace for 70 plus minutes?
I’m not sure. Waterford to get through a huge battle.
I’m sure one of the biggest lessons Mattie Kenny will have learned from last year’s championship match in Thurles was the pace of the Cork attack. Robbie O’Flynn got man-of-the-match that evening but Jack O’Connor created the Cork goal by burning Paddy Smyth for pace. Mattie will surely have learned from that experience but, on the otherhand, who is capable of matching Jack O’Connor for pace at the moment?
The only way to stop a guy like Jack is to keep the ball out of his hand in the first place. Paddy is a very good corner-back.
He was missing two of his colleagues beside him in the full-back line for the Leinster final and he still coped well. He’s the type of guy you’d want on your team but, unfortunately for Paddy, he has been on the end of a couple of big mistakes, which is very costly in that position.
Jack really impressed me last Saturday. I knew he had pace to burn but I wasn’t sure if he was more inconsistent than flashy – he was flashy and consistent seven days ago. He scored one goal but he could have had three. The goal he did get, no other corner-forward in the country would have dreamt of taking it on from the position in which he received the ball. But Jack looks far more confident now than he was last year.
It will be a big challenge for Paddy to tie Jack down, so Mattie may decide to move Cian O’Callaghan over on him.
Whatever Dublin decide, stopping Jack will go a long way towards halting Cork’s charge.
If you look back to the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final, there are only four starters left from that match – Liam Rushe and Danny Sutcliffe (Dublin) and Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan (Cork). Alan Nolan, David Treacy and Mark Schutte were on the Dublin bench that afternoon but Noley is the only one of that trio that will start here.
It’s almost fitting now that Rushey and Harnedy will probably square up to one another because they are even more important to their teams now than they were eight years ago.
Harnedy was man-of-the-match last Saturday while Rushe is still central to how Dublin set up, and how much leadership he still provides for this team.
Whether it’s Rushey saying that he is giving this one last shot or what – and I’m certainly not writing him off – his fitness and conditioning levels are as good as I’ve ever seen from him. He has also been helped by how Dublin are deploying Conor Burke as a sweeper, which has given Rushey the licence to completely attack the ball.
Harnedy is a player I’ve admired for years so Rushey will have to try and get that balance right between sitting deep and not allowing Harnedy to shoot and link the play as well as he did against Clare. I’m sure Tim O’Mahony will pick up Danny, who is also in super form. Tim brings a real edge and abrasiveness to Cork and, similar to James Meagher – who got three points from play off Danny in the second half of the Leinster final – Tim loves to attack too. Will Tim stick or twist on that now though? I think he’ll just focus on Danny and curtail his attacking instincts for this one. Or else, Cork may decide to put Ger Mellerick on Danny which would release Tim into a more attacking role if his man drifts into midfield.
I really like what I’ve seen from Dublin so far, especially the way in which they beat Galway, and how they manned up to Kilkenny. I really think they’ll play well here, and that Cork will have to play just as well to beat them. Cork are well entitled to be favourites but 1-4 on? To me, that’s a joke of a price. I think the Dublin players will use that too as motivation but the one concern I’d have for Dublin is that their record is poor in Thurles. Bar beating Limerick in the 2011 All-Ireland quarter-final, and the 2013 league promotion final, I never remember having too many good days in Thurles with the Dubs. Given that Cork love Thurles so much, I give a tentative nod to Cork to win what could be a much tighter game than most people think. Especially the bookies.