The loss of Austin Gleeson for Waterford this weekend in the Allianz hurling league final against Cork could well sway the balance towards the Rebels and a first league title since 1998, according to Anthony Daly.

The former Hurler of the Year has been one of the standout players in the competition thus far, and picked off 2-03 last time out against Wexford before getting his marching orders for an altercation with Wexford defender Simon Donohoe late in the game.

Waterford have decided not to appeal the dismissal after reviewing footage of the incident and he will miss out on Saturday's final at Semple Stadium.

Speaking on this week's RTÉ GAA podcast, Daly said that in a game of fine margins, the absence of the "Rolls Royce" player could have a significant impact.

"I think Simon Donohue gives him a tap on the calf as the ball goes wide, maybe there is a verbal or two, I don’t know," he said of the sending-off incident. "If there is a verbal, just give back a verbal.

Gleeson gets his marching orders against Wexford

"No better learning day for Austin than Saturday night when he is sitting in the stand in Thurles watching the lads run out in a national final.

"He’s playing some hurling, and seems to be operating a free role down the left-hand side of attack. Wexford had no handle on him at all. A lot of teams I think will struggle as he is hard to pin down.

"They (Waterford) have a good panel, but I think the loss of an Austin Gleeson is very hard to quantify. I think Cork might have the edge."

The Munster rivals won’t meet until the third round of the provincial championship, eight weeks after the league decider, so Daly is expecting a full-throttle encounter in Thurles.

After coming through a semi-final against Kilkenny with some of their key forwards quiet from play by their own standards, plus the absence of Gleeson, Daly thinks the Leesiders will squeeze through on the night.

Shane Barrett has been making his presence felt at centre-forward

"If you can win a semi-final against Kilkenny with Shane Kingston and Patrick Horgan really not firing from play, I’d fancy Cork.

"Those two will be due big games.

"I like Shane Barrett at 11 with the option of springing Seamie Harnedy, I like the way that dynamic is working.

"Everyone is raving about the strength of competition in Waterford, but there’s serious depth in the Cork squad as well.

"I think they will edge a great game."

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