Hayes: Kilkenny 'a class apart'

Galway forward Damien Hayes says that Kilkenny's ability to win games, irrespective of their form, will leave it very hard for any team to stop the Cats from claiming an All-Ireland five in-a-row.

Kilkenny won their 67th Leinster SHC title at Galway's expense last Sunday, cantering clear in the second half for a 1-19 to 1-12 victory.

The Tribesmen tired somewhat in what was their third Championship game in successive weeks, but Hayes insists that the busy schedule was not a factor in their defeat.

"They were two very tough games against Offaly, and even the Wexford game was extremely tough as well, so it was," he said.

"It possibly did take its toll a small bit (for the final), but it is no excuse. Kilkenny beat us and beat us fair.

"They are just an awesome team is the best way to describe it.

"It's hard to get on top (of them). They seem to get on top and put the scores together.

"Unless you get on top from the start you are backtracking, and trying to eat into their lead or whatever, but it's not easy.

"They are a quality side, they really are truly class all over the pitch."

And Hayes, who has been confirmed as the Opel GPA Hurler of the Month for June, says that while Kilkenny are ahead of everybody else at the moment, there is not much between the chasing pack.

"Naturally enough Kilkenny are above us all, and there is no point saying that they are not - you have got to speak honestly and say it out.

"Then you have the likes of Waterford, Cork, Tipperary, Galway and Offaly - all of these teams, Dublin (also). They are all on a par."

Asked about Dublin's intriguing qualifier clash with Clare at Croke Park, Hayes feels that the Dubs have enough quality to pull through.

"That's a very difficult one to call, because Dublin will have a kick in them and Clare put in such a good performance against Waterford (in the Munster semi-final)," he said.

"Something just tells me that Dublin will win that game, and I don't know why. We played Dublin in the league and they were very strong."

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