Perennial talk of the seniors being past-tense – save perhaps from one last ‘dying kick’ – has always been short-sighted. You’re only as old as the youngsters coming through and, contrary to what many media commentators would have you believe, Waterford – reaping the benefits of the hurling boom wrought by the post-’98 breakthrough – aren’t about to fall off the face of the hurling earth.
The indications are that these young lads are the real deal, with the temperament to match the talent that could make them household names like McGrath, Browne, Mullane, Kelly and ‘Brick’ in years to come, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
Cyril Farrell might reckon a complacent Tipp were just “caught” on the hop but that’s a lazy, soundbite assumption. The winning mentality Waterford sought for so long has slowly but surely been instilled in club, college and county teams right the way up, and across all areas, urban and rural, and great credit must go to those on the coaching and motivational side for that.
And in a week when Davy Fitzgerald was making ‘down the road’ overtures towards Clare, Jimmy Meaney and his selectors proved that there’s native managerial nous in Waterford too.
As the lean years after 1992 went to show, there are never any guarantees, but the future for Waterford hurling would seem to be in a healthy state looking at the medium to long-term. Their elders will soon be looking over their shoulders, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.