When all is said and done, Lazarus only came back from the dead but, after their seven-goal demolition by Tipperary in the Munster final only two weeks ago, Waterford came back from being dead, buried, waked and mourned with obituaries prepared, to put on a display reminiscing some great days for the Déise in Thurles over the last glorious decade.
“There were two ways you can react after a defeat like the Munster final,” said manager Davy Fitzgerald, “you can go out and take a few pints and forget about it, or you can go home and live through the hurt — and that’s very important, to hurt.”
Well Waterford obviously lived through the hurt and from the moment Cathal McAllister threw in the ball it was obvious they were intent on inflicting hurt on Galway. And they took the approach the earlier the better — 1-2 on the board within five minutes to Galway’s 0-0.
The goal was indicative of the difference between the teams. An ordinary 20m free in the second minute after full-forward Shane Walsh was pulled down heading for goal. Eoin Kelly had only one thing on his mind — goal. His powerful shot was well saved by Galway keeper James Skehill. The ball in the air for whoever reacted fastest, often a measure of whoever wants it most. Three Waterford hurleys swung almost simultaneously but Walsh was sharpest. Waterford had the start they needed.
Soon the powerful Kevin Moran was announcing his considerable presence from midfield, the first of three long-range points. Kevin and Shane O’Sullivan, an entirely new midfield partnership since the Munster final, would go on to completely dominate that area. In their two big wins coming into this game, over Clare and Cork, Andy Smith and David Burke had been magnificent for Galway in midfield. Donal Barry had been a star in defence. Joe Gantley a revelation up front. All were taken off yesterday.
The Galway of the Cork and Clare games had stayed home. What we saw again was the Galway of Mullingar where they struggled for so long against Westmeath. The Galway of Tullamore, where they had been crushed by Dublin. Rudderless, leaderless and overall, helpless.
As the first half progressed Galway managed to work themselves back into it and by the 17th minute, courtesy of a Joe Canning penalty special (Iarla Tannian dragged down by Liam Lawlor) and points from a variety of sources, they actually took the lead, 1-5 to 1-4.
In the final minute of injury-time, however, Waterford made their move. Points from Walsh and free-taker Pauric Mahony nosing them into a two-point lead at the break, 1-9 to 1-7.
This was the gauntlet thrown down to Galway — how would they respond? They wouldn’t, is the short answer.
A five-point run from Waterford to start the second half briefly interrupted while Joe Canning pointed a 40m free, then another four-point burst and Waterford were 10 points clear, 1-18 to 1-8.
Pauric Mahony (four) did the bulk of the scoring, but Walsh (top scorer from play with 1-4), Eoin Kelly, Kevin Moran again, John Mullane (three points from his new position of centre-forward) and Shane O’Sullivan all counted on the scoreboard, while the much-criticised Waterford full-back line did a superb job in suffocating the Galway threat.
Liam Lawlor is back in the full-back role, but youngsters Darragh Fives and Noel Connors did extremely well, while the masterful Brick Walsh was back lording affairs in the centre-back role, Tony Browne and David O’Sullivan sewing things up on the flanks.
“Beaten all over field, no excuses, no complaints,” said Galway boss John McIntyre.
“I thought at half-time it would still be a contest but Waterford did to us what we needed to do to them. We just didn’t perform, there was an edge to Waterford Galway didn’t have.” There was that, there was all of that — not bad for a team whose epitaph was being prepared for today, a team supposedly at loggerheads with its own management. Not on this display.
“Waterford looked a busted flush after the Munster final,” said McIntyre.
“They’re now back in All-Ireland semi-final and Kilkenny need to be on their guard.”
Scorers for Waterford: S Walsh 1-4, P Mahony 0-7fs, K Moran, J Mullane, S Molumphy 0-3 each, T Ryan 1-0, S Prendergast, E Kelly, S O’Sullivan, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: J Canning 1-6 (1-0p, 2fs, 1 65), A Harte 1-0, G Farragher 0-2; T Óg Regan (f), A Smith, I Tannian, J Regan, B Daly 0-1 each.
Subs for Waterford: R Foley for Kelly (64), S Casey for S Prendergast (70), D Prendergast for Browne (71), T Ryan for Mullane (72).
Subs for Galway: C Donnellan for Gantley (40), K Hynes for Barry (43), J Lee for Cullinane (inj. 47), B Daly for Smith (52), A Harte for Burke (61).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).