Friday, 13 November 2020, 14.30
A win for Limerick looks like a certainty. Let's look at what would have to happen for Waterford to win.
Limerick have lost two of their regular backs and can't afford to lose another. While they don't have a "single point of failure," every team has its limits and, of late, Limerick have moved closer to theirs. If one more defender, was to be injured/suspended, they'd be undeniably weakened. Their bench is shallow in defensive options. And, while Limerick have attacking options on the bench, if they were to lose Aaron Gillane, they'd start to look beatable as he's the fulcrum of the attack, the free-taker, and probably the most consistent forward in the game.
Image: Richie English and Tom Devine.
Kyle Hayes was redeployed to wing-back against Tipperary and, while this was commented on as representing Limerick's versatility, the more likely reason was that management wanted to shore up the left side of their defense, normally manned by Dan Morrissey and Richie English. The same left side looked wobbly in their first match against Clare and management were swift to diagnose this and make a slew of remedial changes. This restructuring showed that Limerick were not fully confident in numbers left corner- and wing-back.
Image: Conor Gleeson and Graeme Mulcahy.
So, the loss of one more defender and/or Aaron Gillane is necessary for Waterford to win. But, they'd still have to outscore Limerick's point-accumulating machine, and that means one thing: goals. Waterford would need 2-3 goals and to hold Limerick on the same account. This isn't impossible, and, while I wouldn't bet on it, Waterford are liable to be bold and unconventional, and therein could be the ingredients for the bit of needed randomness. That is to say, if Waterford were to play Limerick conventionally, they'd be blown away; but, by allowing for that bit of creativity and chance, there's some potential value for Waterford to capture.
If these events don't transpire for Limerick (i.e. the loss of another defender and/or Aaron Gillane, allied to Waterford doing the goal scoring), they should win at a canter, but let's see.
(There are of course, a whole range of other things Waterford would have to do to win, such as limit the excellent distribution of Limerick's half-backs, disrupt the smooth, incisive, linked passing in the middle third, and smother Gearóid Hegarty's player-of-the-year form, but these are known knowns).
Prediction: Limerick to win at ease, but I'm intrigued by the non-zero chance of the events that would lead Waterford up the steps to the most unlikely of wins.