Kilkenny boss Brian Cody: 'Very, very skillful' Waterford could win the All-Ireland
THE first thing most people think when when they consider Waterford is their sweeper.
It has, rightly or wrongly, defined them in this, their season of quantum leaping up hurling's order of excellence.
"The first thing I always think about when I think about this Waterford team is that they're very skillful, to me that's the most important thing they are," says Brian Cody, against whom Waterford come up next Sunday in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final.
"I think they've tremendous skill, right throughout the team, from the goalkeeper right throughout to the corner-forwards, plus their subs coming on - younger lads coming on.
"And I've seen that skill developing over the last few years with them, not that they haven't always had skill, they've had terrific hurlers over the years but I think this particular group of hurlers are very, very skillful.
"Plus," the Kilkenny manager continues, "they have terrific experience there, they have Michael 'Brick' Walsh, Kevin Moran (inset right), Noel Connors - these lads who have massive experience."
"They have great athleticism and pace so they have a huge amount going for them and they're playing the particular way they're playing, but they're capable of tweaking it at any stage as well, so they're not even remotely playing as a team that's playing in one particular way."
"They're being labelled as being very, very defensive, setting up with sweepers or whatever it is, but they're getting huge scores, attacking at pace massively and to me they're just very, very skilful, that's the way I look at them."
It's not the first time Cody has faced something tactically divorced from his own side and it won't be the last.
Though there is something assured and confident about Waterford in their current guise.
"Different years turn up different challenges and that's understandable, that's okay, and Waterford are obviously intent on getting their own game right but at the end of the day, everyone's first option is on getting their own game right," he pointed out.
"But then you'd be very, very silly not to consider what the opposition are doing as well.
"We will definitely have to prepare for the potential of what Waterford can do to us, but more importantly we will be trying to get our own game as finely tuned, I suppose, as is humanly possible first.
"I don't look at them as just being a sweeper team at all, and the lad who was playing mostly as a sweeper, Tadhg de Burca, is an exceptionally talented hurler as far as I can see,"
"They have the ability to defend, the ability to attack, they work very, very hard, outstanding on breaking ball."
"There's no doubt about it," Cody concluded, "they could win the All-Ireland. Absolutely certain."