WATCH: Will Galway still be at the races after quarter-final?

Whatever about their role as hurling’s enigmatic force, Galway’s results at the quarter-final juncture cannot be called into question.

WATCH: Will Galway still be at the races after quarter-final?

In attempting to clear the third hurdle from home, their form has been remarkably grim since the inception of the quarter-finals in 1997.

Should the Tribesmen come a cropper tomorrow in Thurles, you’re likely to hear a Galway fan or two spouting the three certainties of life out west: Death, taxes and Galway exiting the hurling championship before race week.

Down, Derry and Antrim aside, the Tribesmen hold, by some distance, the worst quarter-final record among the traditional hurling counties.

They’ve emerged second best in their last six quarter-final outings a decade has elapsed since the Tribesmen last enjoyed a victory in late July.

In total, they’ve managed just three wins (2000, 2001 and 2005) from 14 appearances at this stage. Pretty deplorable stuff.

Tomorrow’s opponents Cork, by stark contrast, lead the way with an 83% success rate. At the other end of the table sits Galway and their 22% strike rate.

All the more galling for followers of the maroon and white is that winning positions were forfeited in four of those last six quarter-final clashes.

In 2011, Joe Canning converted a 18th minute penalty to move Galway ahead of Waterford. They would be outscored 1-19 to 1-9 over the remaining 52 minutes.

In 2010, they led Tipperary 3-16 to 3-14 after 68 minutes. They lost by one.

In 2009, they led Waterford by four as the clock spilled into time added on. Again they were beaten by the minimum.

Two years earlier, they were level with Kilkenny eight minutes from time. Eddie Brennan sniped a pair of green flags and Galway headed for Ballybrit and another week of wondering.

The headline in this week’s Connacht Tribune aptly summed up the prize on offer for Anthony Cunningham’s men against Cork - ‘Chance for Galway to end All-Ireland quarter-final and Thurles bogeys in one swoop,’ it read.

You see, while their quarter-final record sinks the heart, it pales by comparison to the counties’ vast collection of defeats at tomorrow’s venue.

The four-point league defeat to Tipperary in mid-February extended Galway’s losing run at Tom Semple’s field to six. Not since the league final win over Cork in 2010 have Galway scored a competitive victory at Thurles, six championship exits in nine-years at hurling’s most hallowed venue brooks no argument.

“People say that it’s not a happy hunting ground for Galway, but it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Pearse Stadium or the Gaelic Grounds, I think more of a big deal is made of it,” Andy Smith said of the venue.

“We don’t dwell on it. We don’t think: ‘Oh God, it’s Thurles’. It’s about your attitude on the day.”

John McIntyre, who twice suffered summer-ending defeats as Galway manager in Thurles (2009 and 2011), places far more stock in the Semple Stadium stigma.

“Big championship matches and Thurles have been desperately uncomfortable bedfellows for Galway hurlers over the past decade,” he wrote in this week’s Connacht Tribune. “Call it what you like – graveyard, jinx, hoodoo or bogey – but Semple Stadium largely turns up only bad memories for the wearers of the maroon. The Tipperary stadium has never been a great hunting ground for Galway hurlers, but over the past decade Thurles has more often than not become a graveyard for their visitors from the West.

“Apart from their championship qualifier win over Cork in 2009 and a league final triumph the following year, the Tribesmen invariably depart the venue with tails between their legs.

“No wonder supporters of the Tribesmen will be travelling to Thurles on Sunday with some trepidation as Galway try to resurrect their season.”

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