Memory of last year's landslide can spur Déise
An improving Tipperary should win, but Waterford will show the 2011 Munster final was a complete aberration, writes NICKY ENGLISH
THE FIRST thing to do is to dismiss any notion that last year’s landslide win by Tipperary over Waterford in the Munster final has any relevance on this occasion. It doesn’t. This is a totally clean slate, as I believe last year’s seven-goal winning margin for Tipperary was a complete aberration.
I do think Tipperary will win again, but only after a tough and close affair. But, then, it’s very hard to be sure about anything in hurling after what happened to Kilkenny last Sunday and every team that’s left in the championship will believe they have a chance, some more than others admittedly.
There are a number of strong reasons, however, to fancy Tipperary to get the job done tomorrow. For one, it would appear that Tipp have come through the harder side of the draw in beating Limerick and Cork along the way. Two tough wins. Another key factor is that Tipperary showed improvement from one win to the other.
And then there is the Lar Corbett factor. In introducing Corbett against Cork, the Tipperary team was strengthened. By starting him this time, the team is strengthened further. His inclusion gives the lie to the whole gym work and pre-season training regime as he has only been back six to eight weeks and is still good enough to find a way onto the team. But no-one will dispute that Corbett’s inclusion is good for the game and it is certainly good for the Tipperary forward line that their big player is back.
It was understandable if Corbett was a little bit “jumpy” when he came on against Cork and that his touch was not as perfect as normal. Still, he was instrumental in setting up the goal for Noel McGrath and, with the extra few weeks, I expect him to be more relaxed in this game.
Corbett’s goal-scoring blitz in the corresponding game last year was something to behold, but I don’t think he will get anything like that freedom this time. If anything, the Waterford psyche will get a bit of a boost by Corbett’s inclusion as it could well focus Michael Ryan’s side now that the player who did most of the damage is back. It was, after all, a most embarrassing defeat.
This Waterford team seems better structured than the one that fell so tamely last year when they started young Jerome Maher on Corbett and brought Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh out of his best position at centre-back and moved him to full-back. In effect, they invited Tipperary to come at them and paid a heavy price as the floodgates opened straight away.
Waterford showed their capabilities when refocusing for the backdoor and beating a Galway team that wasn’t a million miles away from the one that upset Kilkenny last Sunday. This is more like a traditional Waterford team, with Liam Lawlor at full-back, Brick at centre-back and Stephen Molumphy, Séamus Prendergast and John Mullane, while Pauric Mahony’s return could be a plus.