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Waterford getting best out of Austin Gleeson: JJ Delaney explains what Liam Cahill has changed
JJ Delaney explains the changes Waterford manager Liam Cahill has made for Austin Gleeson to return to his best; watch the All-Ireland final live on Sky Sports Mix from 2.30pm on Sunday
Last Updated: 09/12/20 11:38am
Austin Gleeson's return to form has been central to Waterford's resurgence this year, as the Déise are just 70 minutes away from a first All-Ireland title since 1959.
The Mount Sion star has been the Suir-siders' talisman in recent years, and a dip in his own form coincided with the county's failure to win a championship game for two seasons.
However, things have clicked for the 25-year-old this year, and he has helped Waterford back into the big time.
So what changes has Liam Cahill made to enable Gleeson to flourish?
"Austin Gleeson was always the best player on the field, from U14, U16, U18, U21 and into the senior team. He is after setting unbelievable standards for himself back in 2016 and 2017, around when he won Hurler of the Year," explains JJ Delaney.
"Since then, he has failed to [hit those heights].
"But what Liam Cahill has done is he gave him a job to do, 'you work hard, get yourself on the ball'. And you can see game-on-game, he is after improving some amount.
"But he's only playing his own small patch. He's not trying to hurl everywhere on the field. And Waterford are benefitting from that.
"In the second half [against Kilkenny], he was just un-hurl-able. He was winning hard ball, throwing Kilkenny lads out of the way.
"After hitting the last point, he went down on his hands and knees. He gave it his all for Waterford in that second-half.
"Liam Cahill must be absolutely [thrilled]. If you can get your top players doing that, the rest of them will fall into place very quickly."
How can Limerick limit his influence on the final?
Delaney is rated as one of the best backs to ever step onto a hurling field, but the former Kilkenny star feels that Limerick must take collective responsibility when it comes to marking the 2016 Hurler of the Year.
"You're not going to handle a player like Austin Gleeson on your own," Delaney explained.
"You need to go as a unit. 'If he steps behind me, I need the guy to cover me straight away or tell me where he's gone.'
"Austin is so good. In the first half [against Kilkenny], he was on the ball but taking the wrong opportunities. But he got one ball back in his half-back line, and he hit it into Dessie Hutchinson. Dessie got a point off it, and that brought Austin and Dessie into the game.
"He's working a lot more for the team himself.
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"But the best team equipped to handle Austin will be Limerick. They handled him very well in the Munster final, but he still came off the field with two points from play as well.
"So it will be interesting where he is going to be positioned. Is he going to start full-forward? Is he going to start centre-forward? Or they might throw a curve-ball in, put Stephen Bennett at centre-forward, and put Austin on the wing. I'd love to see Austin and Kyle Hayes going at it - it would be worth looking at the game just for that battle alone!"
Watch Limerick vs Waterford in the All-Ireland final live on Sky Sports Mix from 2:30pm Sunday.