Sixty-five next year, Justin McCarthy is further away than ever from single-handedly leading a team to an All-Ireland Hurling Final after Sunday’s humiliation at the hands of Tipp.

The Corkman, who was coach when the Rebels lifted the centenary Liam McCarthy under Fr Michael O’Brien, failed to scale the penultimate fence in four attempts with Waterford.

Though they’d only beaten Laois, Wexford and Dublin after drawing with and losing to the Deise, getting a job lot like Limerick to a semi seemed like a decent year’s maintenance work by McCarthy, until the roof caved in at Croker.

Davy Fitz’ empathised with his predecessor, reliving last September’s nightmare while watching the Treaty being trounced. The way he saw it the Limerick boss had no gameplan, while his fellow ‘Daily Star’ columnist Ger Loughnane said McCarthy did have one, just that it was “insane”.

‘Fade out’-free, Tipp will be on a high after hitting 6-19, almost at their leisure, while there certainly won’t be any complacency in the Kilkenny ranks now. Brian Cody’s men have been handed the last two McCarthy Cups. They’ll surely earn this one.



Having lost out to both finalists by only a couple of scores, Waterford won’t be able to stop wondering what might have been. Better they look to the future, which appears bright, if the vision is there.

Rightly proud of his players’ performances this summer, Waterford Minor Hurling Manager Jimmy Meaney was optimistic about the county’s short/mid/long-term prospects after their All-Ireland semi-final defeat by a Galway side in the Croke Park curtain-raiser. Mattie Murphy’s ‘men’ were ultimately stronger and more streetwise than the Waterford’s finest, who played without fear, got some brilliant individual nd team scores, and will be better for the big-game experience.

Instilled with confidence after beating Tipp to the Munster title, the Mount Sion clubman reckons as many as a handful of his teenagers are ready for the step up to senior in the very near future. Certainly Kilkenny or Tipperary would have no compunction about bringing in youngbloods. It’s as clichéd as they come, but if you’re good enough you’re old enough, just as the corollary applies to the likes of Tony, Ken and Dan.

Without putting pressure on them, it was obvious on Sunday which Waterford up-and-comers will soon be serious senior contenders (names like O’Halloran, O’Neill and Murray among them), along with any number of the Under-21s who reached the Munster final only to come up against a side that will perhaps have a certain inter-county bainisteoir with Banner blood looking west with conflicting hope in his heart.

As Eddie Kirwan examines elsewhere this edition, the options are certainly interesting for whoever is picking the Portláirge panel in 2010. It’s one thing nurturing lads, but often there’s no time like the present to optimise one’s potential.