It is a pity that on a weekend of so many hugely important games, off-field activities once again grab the headlines.
Waterford are the ones creating the media frenzy, for all the wrong reasons. The week began with manager Michael Ryan in the firing line after a run of poor results and then the story went from bad to worse with the resignation of selector Nicky Cashin on Thursday.
I don’t know what went on behind the scenes and I won’t speculate, but Waterford could have done without it.
This isn’t the first time Waterford have had problems and it makes you wonder what’s going on down there. Are they all pulling together, from the county board down? It is a pity given all the great work being done, especially in the city, to promote hurling.
The timing could hardly have been worse. Facing Galway in Pearse Stadium isn’t easy at the best of times. Given the manner in which Galway came back against Cork last week to record a fantastic win, the hosts would be lacking in confidence.
I’m wondering, have we gone away altogether from what hurling is about?
Has the focus on the manager become far too great, with everyone in every county looking for instant success?
What has happened to simply enjoying the game?
In sport, you have good days and bad days, and even with the most successful counties there are more bad days than good — what has happened to just enjoying what’s on offer? Expectations in Waterford have probably become far greater than they should be. How much success have Waterford had down the years? I can remember Waterford getting big beatings in Munster in the 70s and 80s and there wasn’t half the fuss. They’re not world beaters, they must realise that, and maybe they should now just all move on and pull together behind Michael Ryan.
We’re going to move on here in this column too, to the on-field action.
I like what Anthony Cunningham is doing up in Galway. He has been a very steadying influence, everyone is pulling together and that makes such a difference. Galway are going in the right direction and will continue that run tomorrow. They’ll be in the shake-up for a semi-final place.
Kilkenny head for Cork and by tomorrow evening we’ll all know where Jimmy Barry Murphy and his team stand. What has impressed me about Cork is the leadership coming from the younger members of the team, while it also looks like some of the older guard are losing a bit of ‘toe’. Maybe at this stage Jimmy would be better off just going with the youngsters altogether, give them their head for the year, let them build experience. And there is no better way to learn than playing Kilkenny in a big game like this. There’s still huge respect for Cork hurling in Kilkenny, and a bit of fear also. Rest assured, they’ll be trying to bury Cork this Sunday and make a statement for later in the year. Kilkenny should win but I expect Cork to really lift their game.
Tipperary face Dublin this evening and this is a huge game for Anthony Daly’s men. They’ve lost three from three and will probably lose this one too against a Tipperary team coming into form. But what’s important here for Dublin is a good performance.
In Division 1B, the big one is Limerick and Offaly in the Gaelic Grounds this evening. Whoever loses can throw their hat at making the division final; whoever wins is still very much in it. This will be a good one with home advantage working in Limerick’s favour.
Clare face Wexford in Ennis and the way they’re going, you’d have to fancy them to remain unbeaten, which would put them in the divisional final. Wexford are at their most dangerous though when their backs are to the wall, as Offaly found out to their cost in round two. I don’t think Clare will be caught, however.
In a game that could yet see them in contention for a top-two finish Antrim take on Laois in Casement Park, and even without the Loughgiel players they’ll be too strong.
Finally, what has amazed me about this league are the huge scores recorded. Is it the fine weather, or have forwards suddenly become that good?
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