I fancy Galway, to be honest. I think from the Leinster final, Galway will learn a lot more about that game than Kilkenny. That’s a big factor and their intensity is something else. As long as they bring that, they’ll stay in it and it might be enough to get them through.
It’s crucial that Galway match Kilkenny early on intensity-wise, and they’ll have learned a lot from the last day against Tipperary as well, in the way they responded to goals with points straight after. The problem is that they’re not always going to get that lucky.
These Kilkenny players are as good as the Tipp forwards and what Galway did defensively the last day didn’t work. It’s up to their manager Anthony Cunningham to come up with a plan now to neutralise the Kilkenny attack but that’s easier said than done.
They might decide to drop Iarla Tannian a bit deeper.
The battle, ultimately, will be won between the two 65-metre lines, where the big tackles will go in and where the intensity needs to be.
It’s important to win the rucks and the dirty ball and get it into the full-forward line to the likes of Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn. Whoever wins that dirty ball around the middle will win the game because each team has the personnel inside to capitalise.
What will also stand in Galway’s favour is their physicality. They’re massive men, and might be even bigger than Kilkenny, who are no slouches either. And Galway now find themselves in a situation where they’re not solely reliant on Joe Canning in attack. They have players like Mannion and Flynn and it’s not predictable with Galway any more, whereas in the past it was a case of getting the ball into Joe. The man himself is not expected to score every time he gets the ball now and he’s willing to lay off a pass, like he did for that last score against Tipperary.
A Galway win would give every county out there a bit of confidence going into next year. If Galway can do it, and Clare did two years ago, why can’t we?
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