Kilkenny have found an absolute gem in Martin Keoghan
Every Kilkenny loss is treated as a disaster and every victory a possible new dawn. The truth is, Kilkenny are not back but they are heading in the right direction.
It has been 30 months since Kilkenny last won an All-Ireland but some naysayers would have you convinced it is coming on 30 years.
The Cats are no longer the force they once were, with many of their golden generation now retired from the inter-county game, but they remain a county packed with talent, and potential.
Brian Cody's men lost their first couple of Allianz Hurling League matches and could not strongly argue to be unlucky in either game. They were second best and that, in itself, is a strange thing to admit.
Waterford have not been too hot themselves and, after an equally slow start to the league, brought back some big names for Sunday's clash. Austin Gleeson was one of those big names but he did not come back out for the second half in a match that Kilkenny won at a canter.
TJ Reid helped himself to 1-11 but Kilkenny's star man was a 19-year-old forward that was not a single bit fazed by mixing it with the Déise.
Martin Keoghan scored 0-5 from play and should have had a goal before Waterford goalkeeper Ian O'Regan dragged him to the ground for the most blatant yellow card you were ever likely to see.
The teenager was next to impossible to tie down and scored from all angles against an overworked Waterford defence. This score from an acute angle summed up Keoghan's day:
Martin Keoghan at such an acute angle, Score for Kilkenny! pic.twitter.com/b81Pgrl74F
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 18, 2018
There was much acclaim about Keoghan's performance [below] and Cody will be pleased at what he saw.
In many ways, the young forward is an archetypal Cody player - selfless and hard-working with that innate ability to target a perceived weakness and up his game in the crucial moments of a match.
Handsome win for Kilkenny in Walsh Park. 1-20 to 1-12, TJ hit 1-11, 9 from frees, the lively Martin Keoghan hit five from play. Fair feat to score 1-20 on a boggy Walsh Park
— Mark Gallagher (@bailemg) February 18, 2018
Kilkenny are far from the finished article but Cody will have been pleased to see someone taking the scoring burden off Reid.
With a number of senior stars to come back, and get up to speed, there is reason to be hopeful yet.
As for Waterford, they could do with registering a win and doing it soon.