In a year where 2020 just keeps taking away, the Waterford hurlers gave us something to shout about last Saturday when they paved a way back into the All Ireland Final in two weeks time. An onslaught of pace, energy and attacking play finally undid Kilkenny to which they simply had no answer. The Leinster champions were favourites going into this clash and the statistics were certainly not in Waterford's favour. After all, who was going to beat Kilkenny, a team that hadn't lost an All Ireland semi-final in fifteen years. Our relationship with Kilkenny has been one-sided and that alone was going to be a huge hurdle to overcome even before the throw-in. It was all Kilkenny in the first half, they exuded their usual composure and Waterford were nervy in front of goal. There were some bad misses and our wide tally was escalating. TJ Reid was slotting over frees and an ominous feeling began to descend. Waterford, to their credit kept tacking on points with Stephen Bennett taking charge of proceedings. A seven point deficit wasn't a mountain to overcome at half-time but something had to happen and fast. Our big players needed to step up and that is exactly what they did. After a sublime solo run by Bennett and a drop shot to Eoin Murphy's goal, the psychological barrier was broken and the shackles were thrown off. Up steps Austin Gleeson with an outrageous over-the-shoulder point and the Déise could sense that the tide was turning. The attacking and open play sapped the Kilkenny energy levels and Waterford were now essentially playing the Kilkenny game, closing down every option open to them with absolute ferocity. Lismore's Jack Prendergast ran himself into the ground and Iarlaith Daly was introduced to score a valuable point. It will be a victory that will live long in the memory of Waterford hurling fans and is such a shame that it can't be witnessed in the flesh. However, who would have thought that we would be back in an All-Ireland final in Liam Cahill's first tenure as Waterford manager. Next up, Limerick, a repeat of the Munster Final. The Treaty were convincing in the end against Galway but could this be year that we return to the promised land?
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