A stunning second half salvo, spearheaded by Jamie Barron and Austin Gleeson, propelled a ruthless Deise side into only their second All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final since 1963, when defeating Cork by 12 points at Croke Park on Sunday.
And while Conor Gleeson’s sending off and a first half incident involving Austin Gleeson caught by TV cameras may provide some unhelpful distractions between now and September 3rd’s Final, let’s park both for now.
Because this is a result worth marking. Because there’s joy, beauty and relief in this type of rare event. Because it’ll be great for the town. Savage for the county.
This was the first time ever in which Waterford defeated Cork at this stage of the Championship, and only the second win in the past 12 semi-finals for the men in white and blue, tracing the records back to 1998.
This is also the furthest Waterford have advanced in the Hurling Championship since 1948 in terms of a campaign in which both Tipperary and Kilkenny were already out of the reckoning. That also happened to be the first year in which Port Láirge lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup, and the big one has only crossed Rice Bridge once since. Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-Nine.
A famine will end for either Waterford or Galway come the first Sunday in September: while Galway have been waiting some 29 years for a senior All-Ireland crown, Waterford have had exactly double the wait for glory.
Either way, hurling history will be made, and our great game will all the richer when a fourth different All-Ireland champion in five editions is crowned a fortnight on Sunday.
“I think we’re going to try and get the balance right between embracing it and cocooning ourselves away,” said an elated yet even-tempered Deise boss Derek McGrath at Croke Park, in advance of the hype machine cranking up across the city and county.
“I think if we go the route of locking ourselves (away) for two or three weeks, I’m not sure if that will work for this group…
“But in terms of controlling hype or otherwise, these fellas will be grand. If we don’t perform here in three weeks, it’ll just be because Galway will be better than us…the narrative won’t be that this Waterford team has gotten carried away in the run-up to the game, because they want to try and perform in the final and give themselves every chance…
“But it’s going to be brilliant. The general theme in Waterford is that we’ve suffered – not politically – but just in general, that the town needed a lift, and that the county needed some sort of uplift or surge be it pursuit of the Cath Lab or different things that are central to Waterford people’s emotions, so I think that this will absolutely give everyone a pep in their step. We just have to concentrate on getting the balance right – and there’ll probably be a different song on ‘Up For the Match’, which is a bonus!”
The biggest bonus of all is within Waterford’s reach. But a Maroon barrier stands in their way. A great build-up awaits, so let’s savour every moment. Déise Abú!