WHEN two teams come together again for the second time in a short space of time a number of theories are put forward.
Limerick and Waterford collided in the Munster final a few weeks ago and now they are getting ready to face each other again in the All-Ireland final. The stakes are much higher now and two questions will inevitably be posed, will Limerick repeat their provincial victory or will Waterford turn the tables around?
There’s a widely held perception that it’s always difficult to defeat a team twice in the one championship season and that in many instances the loser on the first day learns more than the winning side.
Limerick were the better side in the Munster final, not by a great deal but enough to claim the victory.
Waterford, however, put that loss aside to secure two great victories subsequently over Clare and Kilkenny and they certainly had no hangover from the loss to Limerick.
Now the two sides collide again in a potentially intriguing All-Ireland final, the first all Munster decider since 2013 when Clare saw off Cork after a replay.
From the outset, Limerick were the team fancied in most quarters, not all but quite a lot. They have done little wrong in justifying that tag and they will get the nod again in advance of the final.
Arguably, their win over Galway last Sunday was their least impressive of the campaign but that’s what galvanises a team the most, not playing right at the top end of their game but still coming away with the victory.
And when it was all over they had managed to add another 27 points to their season’s haul. They have now amassed 111 points in four championship games, that’s an average of almost 28 points per game, some going.
The victory over Galway was achieved in a different sort of way, they had to ground it out more so than in any of their other games but they were able to do that and that told you a lot, about them,
One cannot say that their bench came to their rescue but once more it contributed significantly. Peter Casey, in particular, and Adrian Breen got on the scoresheet on a day that every score was huge.
David Reidy too worked hard after his introduction.
And that could well decide the final, the team that gets more out of the substitutes.
That depth in resources has been a feature of this Limerick team over the past couple of years now and has turned games in their favour.
Waterford, of course, are not exactly lacking in that department either In his fine column on Monday’s Irish Examiner, Anthony Daly pointed to the fact that there will be a Munster winner of the All-Ireland for the third year in a row.
He made reference too to next season and what a Munster championship you’ll get if the Round-Robin format returns.
It would be a bear-it, you certainly would not disagree with that line of thought.
Last Sunday, the Limerick half-forwards made the big difference, the excellent Tom Morrissey, Gearóid Hegarty and Cian Lynch contributing 12 points between them.
Of the two semi-finals last weekend, the Waterford, Kilkenny encounter was certainly the more exciting, mainly because of Waterford’s superb second-half recovery from a seemingly very difficult half-time position.
The Limerick, Galway game was a bit more cagey, more tactical but equally fascinating and there is no doubt that now we have the two best teams in the country setting off to conquer the final frontier.
In three of Waterford’s four games this season, against Cork, Limerick in the Munster final and Kilkenny, they have carried the underdog tag.
In fact, some pundits chose Clare in front of them in the All-Ireland quarter-final after the latter had beaten Wexford.
Now in the final, they have that tag placed around them again, that will suit them down to the ground.
And maybe they’d prefer if the final was on this coming weekend because playing three weeks on the trot certainly did not affect them last Saturday night. It should be a final for the ages.