Eoin Kelly: Derek McGrath’s legacy depends on beating Kilkenny

In his first Paddy Power column, the Tipperary legend says put up or shut up for the Déise and analyses the Qualifier draw...

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Waterford v Kilkenny, what a draw! If it only serves up half of what we saw in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final and subsequent replay, then we’re in for some spectacle.

I reckon Brian Cody will stay on even if his side lose to Waterford, he’s thrived on building a new team before. Cody has retired from teaching now and the more I talk to people the more they tell me he still really loves it.

It’s put up or shut up for the Deise, they simply have to beat the Cats this time.

People in the county believe they’ve got Kilkenny’s number, but they still haven’t beaten them in the Championship since 1959.

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That would have been one of Derek McGrath’s goals when he came in as Waterford manager, beating Kilkenny or Tipperary in the Championship. Yet he still hasn’t managed it.

McGrath has been great for the sport, he’s really galvanised this Déise outfit and has got them playing in a system that’s brought relative success – but now they need to push on.

It’s a must win game for Waterford, for this group of players and especially the management team.

The talk on the street is that Kilkenny are fading away, so it’s a question of leaders next Saturday night. Whose generals will stand up and deliver?

If they’re allowed takeover, Kilkenny will pull through and then I’d fancy them to be in an All-Ireland semi-final.

Should they get that far, there won’t even be a question about Brian Cody going anywhere.

Top draw for Tipp

These seven days – starting from Sunday – could be the most exciting week in the Hurling Championship since 2013 and on the other side of the draw you have Dublin facing Tipperary.

Seamus Callanan is suffering from a lack of form and the whole Tipperary team’s confidence has taken a big battering recently.

I believe it stems from the beating they took from Galway in the National League final; to be hammered by 16 points would knock any side’s self-belief. It’s worrying that Callanan is not on top of his game too, because for the last three years he has been utterly phenomenal.

A shift out to the half-forward line might free him up and get him back on the ball.

Sometimes if your half-backs and midfield are not dominating, the full-forward line can be a lonely place.

There will be two or three fresh faces against Dublin that didn’t play against Cork, so lads are getting their chance to bring a bit of hunger back into the team. That’s what Tipp boss Michael Ryan is trying to do.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped Callanan this weekend against Dublin.

Now, I wouldn’t do it. However, that’s how Ryan could get under a few skins in order to see if he can get the panel chomping at the bit for an All-Ireland quarter-final. He could simply say, ‘Right lads, it’s over to ye now’.

Ryan might well be ruthless with a couple of these guys. Seamus Callanan, John McGrath and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer would be on my team to face Dublin but we’ve seen in the past that, when they are left off the pitch they bite back.

Michael-Ryan-Tipperary-1900

Bubbles was dropped against Galway last year and he delivered when he came on. McGrath did the same last time out, so you’ve seen the manager being clinical before, and he may do it again this weekend.

It’s a favourable draw against Dublin and it will be interesting to see who Ryan goes with as the pressure is slightly off with a home tie.

Every hurling person was glued to the radio yesterday morning at 8.30am waiting for the Qualifier draw to see who’d be pitted against each other.

Tipperary and Kilkenny avoided each other; I know lot of the neutral followers wanted to see him face off.

It’s a funny position the Premier County find themselves in, but you would expect them to win on Saturday and then no one will want to play Tipperary at the quarter-final stage.

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What do you think?