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Monday 25 September 2017

Dub cubs could meet match in youthful Déise

But display in Cork hinted at Dublin's real potential

Dublin’s Eoghan Conroy celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during their Allianz Hurling League Division 1A, Round 2 match against Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn last week.. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin’s Eoghan Conroy celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during their Allianz Hurling League Division 1A, Round 2 match against Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn last week.. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

For all the increasing charm of the hurling League, you couldn't exactly say these teams have done anything out of character just yet.

Dublin have mixed the awful with the brilliant. Waterford have thrown up a hugely anticlimactic performance against Tipperary.

The more things change...

Clearly, you'd prefer to be coming off Dublin's improved-to-the-point-of-being-urecognisible evening in Cork than Waterford's colourless Sunday afternoon in Tipp's strident company but the second half of the League tends to be the canvass on which a truer picture of the state of the hurling nation is painted.

Instructive

Tonight should be instructive.

If anything, Waterford are the living, thriving example of what can be achieved when a manager clears out the mid-to-older players in the squad to start afresh.

They're also testament to the fact that said manager probably requires the materials of at least one outstanding underage team to do so.

Ger Cunningham is determined to plough on regardless and in Cork, we had the positive side of that decision in the performances of - amongst others - Eoghan Conroy and Rian McBride.

Conroy was a three-year minor but didn't exactly thrive with the under 21s last year, yet his ball-winning exhibition, natural pace and goal intuition in Cork made him look like the long, lost wing-forward Dublin have pined for since Danny Sutcliffe and Conal Keaney left the squad.

McBride, who played bits and pieces last year but never enjoyed a run of clean health, absorbed all manner of hits, gave them back harder and struck two superb points.

They played in a team that looked nicely balanced and took energy from the dominant performances of their central defensive characters, Liam Rushe and Eoghan O'Donnell.

Waterford's second-half performance against Tipp was turgid, though their cause hadn't been helped by the late withdrawal of both Jamie Barron and 'Brick' Walsh, the two most significant contributors to the previous week's win Nowlan Park.

We also had the very prominent issue of Austin Gleeson and Shane Bennett hitting wides while, at the other end, John McGrath and Jason Forde couldn't miss.

Still, it's easier to have faith in Waterford's youth than Dublin's just at the moment.

ODDS: Dublin 13/5, Draw 9/1, Waterford 4/11

VERDICT: Waterford

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