After wins over Dublin and Carlow, Kilkenny legend Tommy Walsh believes that his county has reached the “turning point of our season” with Sunday’s Leinster SHC clash with Galway. The nine-time All-Ireland winner is optimistic that the Cats can deliver a big display at Nowlan Park to secure the win that takes them through to the provincial final.
He acknowledged, though, that should Galway win after a workmanlike start to their campaign then “it could kickstart their year” too. The tie is a repeat of the 2012 and 2015 All-Ireland finals, while the counties have also met in three of the last four Leinster finals.
A defeat for Galway would leave them in a tricky spot on just three points after three games and Walsh reckons Kilkenny are primed to inflict maximum pain.
“If they can win this weekend, it’s huge,” said Walsh. “I think this is a huge, huge game for Kilkenny, because a win this weekend is key to the rest of the championship. They’d more than likely be in a Leinster final at that stage and then you’re into the All-Ireland series.
“I think this game is the most important game in a long while. I think the turning point of our season is this Sunday, if they can get over Galway.
Then all the optimism will come back and they can relax, they’ll know they have another month or two of training and big matches.
“There’s huge optimism there. I think with the forwards they have, you look at Adrian Mullen, Walter Walsh, TJ Reid, Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly, if they were on any other team, you’d be saying they’re a force to be reckoned with. I think the guys then who come back from injuries will bolster their defence, but I think the key to it all is this weekend.”
Brian Cody’s Cats had a patchy league campaign, losing four of their six games, and they went into the championship as fifth favourites for the All-Ireland. They’ve been ravaged by injuries too, but those are slowly clearing up and wins over Dublin and Carlow have left them sitting pretty in Leinster.
“I think we’re happy with how it’s gone so far, but the next two weeks are going to be crucial,” said Walsh. “If they can get a win against Galway, you’d imagine they’d be in a Leinster final and that’d be massive for this group because it’s not a team on the wane.”
Derek McGrath and Ger Cunningham review the weekend's hurling with Anthony Daly