The most decorated manager in Galway hurling history believes Daithí Burke is the defender to tie down Kilkenny talisman Richie Hogan.
Burke nullified the influence of Tipperary’s Patrick Bonnar Maher in last month’s semi-final and former Galway boss Cyril Farrell says the 22-year old wing-back must pick up Hogan this Sunday if the westerners are to have a realistic chance of ending the county’s 27-year wait for Liam MacCarthy glory.
The 2014 hurler of the year picked off four points in their Leinster final meeting, then hit 0-5 in Kilkenny’s semi-final win over Waterford.
“In the match-ups against Tipperary, we got two right in containing Bonnar and Bubbles, but we got one wrong.
“We can’t afford to get any wrong against Kilkenny,” said Farrell.
“Daithí was excellent against Tipperary and should be handed the task of marking Hogan.”
With TJ Reid expected to line out on the edge of the square, Farrell doesn’t envisage Pádraig Mannion being returned to full-back.
“John Hanbury will be at full-back. He got off the hook the last day in not having to pick up Callanan from the start. He’ll be busy from the off this weekend. You have to know how to play there. You have to play the percentages.
“The corner-backs must hold their shape for if they drift out the field and we leak three goals at the back because of the amount of space that is there, it is game over. They were pulled out the field the last day by the Tipperary forwards. That can’t happen again.”
Though still unsure what Galway will show up on Sunday, the three-time All-Ireland winning-manager reckons the Tribesmen can shade the verdict.
“We are not been given a chance outside Galway. People are drawing the conclusion that it is very hard to beat Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final.
“Fair enough, but if we throw off the shackles and go at them, I think we can beat them.
“When Mayo were beaten on Sunday, that is when they threw the shackles off and came back from the dead. They had all the match-ups and plans, but all that can stifle a team’s performance. You have to have a plan, but you can’t let it stifle you.
“We can’t freeze, and I don’t think we will. This is a first All-Ireland for a lot of them. The first one tends to be the easiest. It is if you lose the first one, that it becomes harder and harder to come back each time.”
Fuelling his optimism also is Anthony Cunningham’s September experience, the present Galway boss the first man since Farrell to guide the county to more than one All-Ireland final.
“It is a big plus in terms of how to handle the situation. Even just to get the time-calls right. You go up there on a Sunday morning and you have to have the schedules very correct, I’m taking about breakfast, team-talks, Mass, getting on the bus, the works.
“When you get into Croke Park you are allowed into your dressing room, but you’re not allowed onto the pitch until your allotted time.
“If you are due to be on the pitch at 3.12pm, but you emerge from your dressing room at 3.10pm, they could hold you underneath the tunnel because you are ahead of schedule. It sounds simple, but no manager has a clue what they are doing the first time around.
“It is a massive factor that Anthony has been there already.”
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