Offaly backboned by u-21s is a team on the rise. Offaly players in general displayed high skill levels with excellent blocking, hooking and some deft flicks. They tackled furiously and at times knocked Waterford players out of their stride. However some needless frees were conceded. Nevertheless J Bergin, D Currams, S Dooley, D Molloy and D Kenny amongst others are players for the future. Offaly manager Joe Dooley has put in place firm foundations.
What of Waterford? The performance was like the curate's egg good in places and bad in places.
Looking at it positively the full back line did not concede any goals. However the half back line has its problems. In general the back line is not watertight enough and tighter marking is required. Loose Offaly players were noticeable throughout the game.
There were stellar performances from Eoin Kelly and John Mullane in the forward line. Eoin Kelly contributed 2-13 (0-9 from placed balls). The forward line is not functioning as a unit. Seamus Prendergast and Dan Shanahan may not be fully fit. Both had injury problems. Movement off the ball and support play is not as it should be for an effective forward line. To a certain extent some players are inclined to overplay the ball. On drier grounds more ground hurling is essential against teams such-as Wexford-which favour continuous picking of the ball. In addition it speeds up the game.
It was noticeable that on a couple of occasions the Offaly goalkeeper caught the Waterford forwards off guard and took a short puck out to a defender.
Some Waterford players need to speed up their striking. They are too easily hooked and blocked down.
Wexford will enter the quarter-final game against Waterford as firm favourites. I suspect that Waterford Manager Davy Fitzgerald will not be too unhappy with this state of affairs.