John Mullane fears Waterford’s sweeper system has become predictable and warned they’ll be miles behind the top teams in the country unless their forward dramatically improve their scoring returns.

Kilkenny flexed their muscles at Walsh Park on Sunday to ease past Derek McGrath’s men 1-20 to 1-12 in their Allianz Hurling League Division 1A clash.

The Déise only scored one point from play in a frustrating first half, while Stephen Bennett missed a penalty.

“You look at Tipperary (against Wexford)… they’d 1-15 on the board after 15 minutes of hurling,” Mullane told Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1.

“(Waterford) are not going to come within an arse’s roar of Tipperary with those scoring returns. 

“Today we were reliant on Pauric Mahony getting those eight or nine frees, but you’re looking at the scoring return, we’d no forward who scored in the first 36 minutes of play in the first half. We’re not getting returns. 

“If you’re going to be relying on the likes of Kevin Moran, Brick Walsh, these lads are not getting any younger.”

Much has been made of Watyerford’s sweeper system, which was the subject of endless debate and analysis last summer.

Mullane was a staunch backer of the tactic, but he now believes it’s time for a change.

“Last year I’d have been totally supportive of the sweeper,” he said.

“I felt if ever they were going to win an All-Ireland with the sweeper, last year was the year.

“I just think we’re three, four years with the sweeper now and it’s becoming a small bit predictable. If you’re the opposition manager you’re looking at Jamie Barron, Austin Gleeson, Kevin Moran and Tadgh de Burca.

“You’re saying to yourself, ‘we’ll home in on those four players, try and nullify the threat of those four players’ and let’s be honest about it, you’ll go a long way to beating Waterford the way they are structured at the moment.”

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