Loose talk helping to fire Waterford revenge mission against Kilkenny

Kilkenny are notoriously careful when it comes to providing opposition with ammunition. 

Some things or people they can’t control, of course, and then sometimes they can’t help themselves.

Then there are other occasions where perception is all that matters.

Told over and over by Kilkenny they are playing hurling the wrong way, Waterford have more than one reason — last year’s All-Ireland semi-final — to beat their neighbours this Sunday.

Here are another nine:

1. Eddie O’Connor

Last September, the former Kilkenny defender was interviewed by this newspaper about the final but brought the conversation back to Waterford.

“The reason it has been a poor championship is the way Waterford set up. It didn’t help things.

“I don’t want to be too critical of them but facts are facts. The sweeper system does absolutely nothing and they were the people who brought it in.

“I was thrilled that Kilkenny beat them in the semi-final and the sooner that sweeper system is dismantled the better it will be for hurling.

“If the sweeper system continues, we’re going to lose more and more spectators. It doesn’t put people on the edge of their seats like open, fast hurling.”

2. TJ Reid

In praising Tipperary after beating them last February, the 2015 hurler of the year took a thinly-veiled swipe at Waterford who had beaten them the week before.

“It’s Tipperary, you relish the challenge because it’s Tipperary. I suppose we bring the best out of each other in terms of hurling. The two counties have great tradition there. I think there’s no messing involved, it’s eye on the ball the whole time, there’s no silly stuff, no off the ball stuff, it’s just really good hurling and it’s always nice to see that. You hate a game going wrong or tactics being involved. The way it is with ourselves and Tipp I suppose both teams go out to hurl.”

3. Henry Shefflin

In fairness to Shefflin, he has been consistent on his point that Waterford won’t win the All-Ireland without first disregarding the sweeper system.

He said last October: “I think Waterford got to a very high standard this year and probably got to the level you can get to. If you think back to Dublin a few years ago, they did something similar against Tipperary in the 2011 semi-final. 

“They nearly beat Tipperary but didn’t. You restrict one end and I feel you have to get the scores at the other.”

4. Eddie Brennan

The forthright RTÉ pundit called Waterford’s All-Ireland quarter-final win over Wexford as he saw it, condemning the winning team’s style.

He tweeted: “I really hope to see Waterford play off instinct next year. This is rubbish and will get them so far but won’t win them an all Ireland.”

5. David Herity

Speaking on radio last Sunday week, the former Kilkenny goalkeeper suggested Waterford would match his native county this weekend in terms of work-rate and physical presence but little else.

“Looking at the way Waterford set up, I think it will play right into Kilkenny’s hands. 

“They’ll pick them off with points and points, they’ll get themselves a score, open up the distance and then kill them off by seven or eight.”

6. Jackie Tyrrell

“The kitchen is the only place I’ve done a bit of sweeping,” Tyrrell said back in June before adding, “I don’t think it (sweeper) is the Kilkenny way.”

Although he insisted the sweeper wasn’t a disease sweeping the game, he claimed Kilkenny did it naturally without ever having to assign the role to one person.

“We would probably say we put all of ourselves there. It can be so amazing if a half-forward runs 10 yards to pick up a midfielder’s man.

“If you do that you can have so many bodies back. That is the way we work it.”

7. Brian Cody

Say it ain’t so! Yet back in May the Kilkenny manager gently chided TJ Reid for suggesting Kilkenny may have to adopt a sweeper akin to Waterford to match the likes of them.

“I must have a chat with TJ to see what he has in his mind there for that!

“He’s a shrewd tactician I’d say, alright, so we might get a formative plan there. We’ll see.”

8. Eddie Keher

Another Cat perplexed at how Waterford operate is the six-time All-Ireland winner.

He said in May: “Waterford have won schools and minor All-Ireland titles.

“They have beautiful hurlers. Other counties the same. So I cannot understand why they play the way they do.

“It’s their own business but supporters would be wondering why they are not playing with more flair and imagination. 

“They are capable of it. With concerted defending and concerted attacking, I think you can have a good mix of both styles and not just a packed defence.”

9. Richie Power

According to the recently-retired star, there is only one way Waterford can beat Kilkenny.

Speaking last month about the prospect of Waterford winning through to Sunday’s semi-final, he remarked: “You”ll have to go 15-on-15 because I don’t think playing a sweeper will be enough to get over Kilkenny.

“I think Tipperary and Galway, in the last few years, are the only teams that have gone man for man and they have been the ones that have come closest to beating Kilkenny.”


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