August 13th 2017. Waterford are in their first All-Ireland final in 9 years. They've just lit up Croke Park with a four goal blitz, shocking Munster champions Cork and the swathes of red and white around GAA HQ. This was a young team come of age. They were the future.
They haven't won a Championship match since.
— GAA Stats (@GAA_Stats) June 2, 2019
No wins in the first Munster round robin last year saw Derek McGrath call it a day after an unbelievably successful five year tenure. Maybe the players needed a different voice?
Padraig Fanning was the man chosen. It started ok. They made a League final. They came into the Championship with home games in Walsh Park for the first time.
But it hasn't worked out that way. A poor performance against Clare was followed by a worse one against Tipperary. Today, it got even worse. Today, it was embarrassing.
Check out the full-time highlights from Waterford v Limerick here! pic.twitter.com/DJO37shY52
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 2, 2019
Waterford 0-10 - 2-24 Limerick
They limped to the final whistle, begging the referee to call it a day. Hammered by the team who took their mantle last year. Limerick went a step further with their young team in 2018, but despite their defeat to Cork last week, don't look to be going back to the pack quite some meekly. In fact, Waterford haven't gone back to the pack at all. They've fallen behind it.
Waterford look like this can’t end quick enough for them no fight no heart no pride in their jersey fierce disappointment
— Eddie Brennan (@NedzerB13) June 2, 2019
Is it down to Fanning?
Certainly, the tactics displayed over the course of the Championship were confounding. Why play a two man full forward line against four defenders if your tactics consist of long balls into the box? Most of what they did didn't make sense throughout the three games.
Then again, when you see a team collapse in this fashion, when you see the effort falter so profoundly, it's very hard to believe it can all be down the management.
Legend of the county Ken McGrath summed it up on RTE straight after the game. "It was embarrassing. It's not acceptable...
We were an absolute shambles today, in fairness. It was men versus boys."
Ken McGrath says Waterford's 20-point loss at home to Limerick was "embarrassing" and "not acceptable" pic.twitter.com/qKUTiVwuGf
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 2, 2019
There a great young players on this panel. Austin Gleeson, Tadhg de Burca, the Bennetts, Jamie Barron. All top players. There is time for them to regroup. But careers are short in hurling, now more than ever. There won't be a whole lot more chances for these players before their window is closed.
— Dermot Keyes (@DermotKeyes) June 2, 2019
They need to find an answer to what's gone wrong very quickly or Waterford risk being left behind in the new era of hurling they looked to be leading just two years ago.