Hurling

Kilkenny Are Warm Favourites But Which Galway Will Turn Up?

By Kevin Regan

Leinster Final day is upon us, and as you can imagine the excitement has been building ahead of Kilkenny’s clash with old foes Galway in Croke Park tomorrow.

Serious question’s were asked after Kilkenny were dramatically dismantled by Clare in the National League semi final, however they were emphatically answered against Dublin the last day in the Leinster Semi Final.

It’s been quite a rivalry between The Cats and the Tribesmen over the years, and although Kilkenny have enjoyed the better of those tussles in recent years, Galway are quite capable of causing an upset as they did in the 2012 Leinster Final.

The thing is that you never quite know which Galway will turn up, and if ever there was a county with bi-polar performances then it most definitely would be them.

The prime example of this was as recent as last years All Ireland Senior Final against Kilkenny, when they produced a fine first half performance but simply didn’t show up for the second half as Brian Cody’s side took charge from there to the finish line.

Much of the talk during the winter was about Galway and the manner in which Anthony Cunningham was dismissed, but things seem to have calmed since Michael Donoghue was appointed as manager.

Donoghue too knows all about All Ireland Finals against Kilkenny sides, having led Clarinbridge to a Senior club title at the expense of O’Loughlin Gaels back in 2011, but this is an entirely different matter.

Brian Cody has provisionally named an unchanged side to the the one which dismissed Dublin last time out, and the big talking point now is how will Kilkenny’s defence hold up against Galway’s high flying forward line, particularly in the full back line.

Although Joey Holden held his own last year at Full Back, it still seems like a position which is yet to be nailed down since JJ Delaney’s retirement, but to be fair it was always going to be a tough act to follow!

Robert Lennon is also seen as a potential option to end up in that role and took his chance at corner back well against Dublin, and he is named there again for Sunday ahead of Jackie Tyrell.

If Lennon and Holden can keep tabs on the Galway attack along with Paul Murphy, then Kilkenny will go a long way towards winning on Sunday, as they most definitely have enough firepower at the other end of the field to see them take the title.

The return of Richie Hogan to the Kilkenny panel following his injury is another encouraging sign and he could very well start on Sunday even though he has been provisionally named among the subs.

As always, a big performance will be expected from Michael Fennelly at Midfield and when him and TJ Reid are on song Kilkenny usually end up on the right side of the result at the final whistle.

However, Leinster Final day is not one for passengers so everyone of the Kilkenny lads will have to give it socks in order to beat Galway, who will be hell bent on revenge after those recent championship defeats.

To reiterate my point, much will depend on what Galway side will turn up, however having said that you would have to feel that Kilkenny should have enough to prevail by a couple of points.

Verdict: Kilkenny

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