Waterford manager Liam Cahill is getting the best from talisman Austin Gleeson and the former hurler of the year is hitting top form just at the right time for an All-Ireland final, believes former Déise star Tony Browne.
Browne joined Anthony Daly on the Irish Examiner GAA Podcast to review the All-Ireland hurling semi-finals. And he was so impressed with the performance of his fellow Mount Sion man Gleeson, who hit four points from play in the defeat of Kilkenny.
“We’re blessed to have him in the Mount Sion club and blessed to have him in Waterford,” Browne said.
“I see him at club level with two players on him, tearing him asunder and him delivering consistently. People don’t see that.
“I was lucky enough near the end of my carer to train with him and play with him a bit. Some of the things he can do, I’ve never come across a player that I marked or played on that he can do.
“He just has this ability to catch ball and do the unexpected, it’s very hard to defend against because you just don’t know what he’s going to do.
“He’s just a phenomenal player. Over the years, he feels he has to give a nine-star performance. Whereas sometimes he needs to be able to read a game a little bit better in terms of his concentration. Right, I’m not getting unbelievable scores here, but I certainly need to work, recycle the ball, make a couple of tackles here, get myself into the game. And Liam (Cahill) is starting to develop that in him.
“He was hurler of the year in 2016.
“He’s a young lad who carries a lot on his shoulders. And he doesn’t need to feel like that because he’s coming from a minor team and an under 21 team, with the likes of Stephen Bennett, Tadhg de Búrca, all these players are leaders as well.
“He just needs to realise that he just has to do his bit for the team, and he showed that in the second half on Saturday night.
“I think he could be coming right for an All-Ireland final and if he produces in an All-Ireland final, while Limerick will be favourites, we’ll definitely be in with a big shout.
“He had a couple of wides in the first half, he could have come away with eight or nine points from play in an All-Ireland semi-final. Yet he was considered to have a poor first half. What do we expect from the man?”
Browne saw enough in Waterford’s second-half demolition of Kilkenny to give them a real chance of ending the long wait for an All-Ireland title.
“It’s mouthwatering. You can imagine Austin and Kyle Hayes going at it in the half-forward line. Two teams with similar systems and structures. It’s lining up for some individual battles all over the field.
“If we can turn up 60 or 70 minutes of what we saw for 30 minutes the last day, we will definitely be in with a shout.
“Coming away from the Munster final, I know Liam was very disappointed in the display against Limerick that day. Hopefully, this team will turn up and the occasion won’t get the better of them. I don’t think it will.
“For Waterford to win an All-Ireland, even talking about it I’m getting emotional. It would be unbelievable.“
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