Galway selector Frannie Forde accepts the Tribesmen are guilty this year of something they haven’t always been associated with.
“It isn’t something we are accused of too often: Being consistent. We will take it.
“I suppose it is interesting, it was something that was said for a few years. Following on from an All-Ireland final appearance we tend not to perform so well the following year.
“But I suppose at the end of the day if you compare this year with 2013 it comes down to one match, the Clare match. You can pull a remarkable level of consistency out of that or you can just say that on a particular day we got it right. I’m more inclined to go with the latter, that on the day we played Clare we got a few things right.
“We got a performance, and the result means we are back in a semi-final. A lot will be made of the fact that we are back in a semi-final following on from an All-Ireland, something we hadn’t managed to do before. (Since the introduction of quarter-finals)
“The one thing I would say is that if we perform in the way we did against Clare there will only be one result. It won’t be nearly good enough. You can talk about consistency, but I would say our performance levels from the Leinster final to the quarter-final were somewhat similar, maybe a slight improvement in the work-rate.
“That wouldn’t be nearly good enough for the next day. Simple as that.”
The next day it’s Tipp, who didn’t benefit from a long break last year between the Munster final and the All-Ireland semi-final.
“I think last year there was a lot made of the five-week break on Tipp’s part. I think that is something they will be very conscious of this year.
“Again, looking at it from our point of view, we have been working on certain things. We had been hoping that our performance will have improved, that our hurling will come up another notch in terms of speed and all of that.
“We are hoping that the games will have brought us on. You could argue that Tipp were flat last year, but even listening to them after the Munster final this year they seem very focused on getting that element of things right this year. I’ve no doubt that they will arrive 100% ready to go on Sunday.”
It was striking last Sunday that Waterford aligned in orthodox fashion, so it may be that all four semi-finalists line up without a sweeper.
“At the end of the day, if you go back through football games the sweeper system evolved because you’re trying to give yourself some kind of method of getting in the game and keeping things tight,” says Forde.
“What you are trying to do is to upset a team that plays with an orthodox style to try to level the playing field a little bit. I think it was inevitable because it worked to a certain degree in football, that it would happen in hurling as well.
“Is it a case that it hasn’t developed in hurling as much - that could be argued. Some would argue that your sweeper system leaves you a little bit short up front. That is what is going to be peddled out anyway. The reality is that you have to do whatever it takes to try to be competitive at this level. We haven’t gone down that route because we look at the skillset we have in our squad and we want to go to take teams on rather than be overly defensive. It is any manager’s prerogative to decide how they will play.
“When we were going into the Clare game we were fairly sure we were going to encounter a sweeper. It was the first time in Championship hurling that we were going to do so. We played Westmeath and Offaly, and neither of them really deployed a full-time sweeper. While they maybe tried to get numbers back, they didn’t deploy a full-time sweeper.
“That was the big thing for us leading into the Clare game. We only had a couple of weeks to prepare for it.
“Any hurling game is going to be won by who is willing to work hardest on a given day and who has the skillset to do so.”
Tipp have the workrate and skills, says Forde: “You know what you’re going to get alright, but what you’re going to get is a really high level. You look at all of the other teams in the Championship, there is a reason why Tipp and Kilkenny come back every year and be in semi-finals pretty much every year.
“If you take out 2013 when Kilkenny met Tipperary in the qualifiers in Nowlan Park, that is the only year in which they haven’t really featured very strongly at the latter end. You know what you are going to get, but in one way you’re happier because they are a more orthodox team.
“Obviously, when you play a game that you know going out is going to be more tactical, you know it is going to be a tough 70 minutes on the sideline watching what is going on and what is happening tactically.
“Sometimes, when you play a team like Tipperary, who play the same way as we do, very much orthodox, you know exactly what you are going to get, but you have to be so ready because of the quality that they have.”
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