Croke Park, August 6, throw-in 4pm.
It depends on your inclination.
Galway will privately argue they would have won last year’s corresponding fixture but for the injuries to Joe Canning and Adrian Tuohy. On the other hand, how Tipperary failed to turn up in the league final will grate on them. It was there that their difficulties this year began to manifest.
Yes. Galway have never beaten Waterford in championship although that carrot would have intrigued them. Tipperary have recent beef with both Galway and Cork. The latter’s relative lack of experience in Croke Park might have appealed more to Tipperary but as All-Ireland champions they should relish every challenge.
There are question marks about the quality of teams Galway have beaten – Wexford are a quickly improving team but weren’t genuine All-Ireland contenders – and yet the cliché rings true: they could only beat what was put in front of them. Micheál Donoghue’s side would be much more convincing with a solid performer like cruciate tear victim Paul Killeen in their defence. Tipperary’s full-back line issues are so obvious at this stage. The question is can their electric forwards keep their ledger in the black?
As stated, Killeen would be a great addition to the Galway back-line. Cathal Mannion missed the Leinster final but should be fit for Sunday week. The more the Tipperary full-back line shakes, the louder the cry for Cathal Barrett to be forgiven and returned to the set-up grows.
Funnily enough, before yesterday morning’s draw both Galway and Tipperary had scheduled their press events for this week, Galway today and Tipperary on Thursday where Michael Ryan will be able to confirm or put to bed the Barrett speculation. The hype in Galway is greater than it ever was although the low key reaction to annexing the Bob O’Keeffe Cup indicated a redoubled focus. But it’s really the five-week break from beating Wexford to August 6 that will be of most concern here.
Revenge. The hunger of Tipperary has been questioned but they were embarrassed in the Gaelic Grounds in April. Galway know one of the standout moments of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final loss was Pádraic Maher flooring Canning under the Hogan Stand. It will be mentioned more than once that it must be they who are initiating the statement moments. Then again, Seamus Callanan will be out to prove a point after being held scoreless from play by Daithí Burke 12 months ago.
Well, these two rarely disappoint. Tipperary and Kilkenny had the trilogy and this, the third semi-final in as many years between the counties, is the latest chapter in a fascinating series. Dare it be said, it’s a rivalry that has toppled Tipperary-Kilkenny as hurling’s No1. Thankfully, it lacks the poison of the late 1980s/early 1990s duels but it’s a contest that is salty enough. The phrase “little between the teams” was made with this pairing in mind: it’s one win each and the margin each time has been a solitary point. Regardless of what happens in the second semi-final, the victors here will the favourites in the final.
Essential. Given the impressive physical attributes of both sides, the hits will be plentiful and the man in the middle will do well to keep order at times. But without relying too much on common sense there must also be an understanding that these two are familiar with one another.
At the start of the championship, we forecasted Tipperary would retain the Liam MacCarthy through the backdoor but then we also said Waterford would claim Munster so take our advice at your peril. Galway have done enough to be slight favourites but they haven’t yet faced a team like Michael Ryan’s side who, despite not motoring as smoothly as last year, will be thankful that Clare gave them a few scares in Cork on Saturday.
Tipperary are more battle-hardened but Galway won’t need a refresher course on what’s coming their way. Judgement reserved for another 10 days.
John discusses his emotional reaction to semi-final victory over Waterford, Cork hurling's renaissance, his love of coaching, sweeper systems and tactics and much more.