It’s that time of year again. There’s nothing quite like All-Ireland Hurling Final Day. Families congregate in the pubs, culchies make there way up to the ‘Big Smoke’ (and we were kind enough to make them feel welcome) and grown men batter each other with sticks. Ahh Irish traditions.
Kilkenny and Galway will do battle in a repeat of the 2012 All-Ireland Final. There is an air of if there is ever a time for Galway to bridge the 27 year gap then this is it. They have finally gotten over the whole ‘Galway only have one forward’ business and Kilkenny are missing some of their big names. Richie Power was named on the bench despite no time in the Championship yet and Jackie Tyrrell returns to the bench with no training done in the lead up to the final.
Kilkenny’s experience when they get to the final will always have them as the favourites, but is it always fair to the opposition? In 2010 when they were going for the immortal ‘drive for 5’ they were red hot favourites against Tipperary, but they were well beaten 4-17 to 1-18. That day Tipperary just drove into Kilkenny the same way Floyd Mayweather did to his ex. Galway will need to bring that level of intensity if they have a chance of winning.
Galway last won the Liam McCarthy in 1988, but have been in five finals since they last won it. Lost by three points in 1990, five in 93, three in 01, five in 05 and 11 in 2012 after a draw against the Cats. However, this is a much improved team from the 2012 team. The rest of the forwards have stepped up. Jonathan Glynn has been one of the revelations of the Championship. He’s hit 1-20 so far this season to take some of the pressure off Big Joe’s shoulders. Canning has cut loose this year and has been rewarded with 4-47 with 4-12 from play.
- Can Galway bridge the 27 year gap against the Cats and win the Liam McCarthy? Bet Now: Mobile | Desktop
Kilkenny’s defence may be battled-hardened, but they are slow and Galway’s forwards are fast. With the exception of Tommy Walsh 2.0 there’s no one in that back six that will be able to live with Galway if they pull them out the pitch and switch positions the way Tipp did in 2010.
Galway need a big game from Cyril Donnellan. The centre forward has nine points this season so far, but he will be key in supplying the inside line. Goals win finals and Galway have hit 13 in this years Championship. If they can keep T.J. Reid and co. quiet up the other end and let Joe and the others do their job one trophy could be going back West this season.
Kilkenny’s experience will be their biggest asset against Galway. They’ve been there and done it all before so many times, but after the way they beat Galway in the Leinster Final Galway will want to make up for that. Cathal Mannion could be the man to change this game. All the focus has been on Canning and Flynn, but Mannion has 3-20 overall this year. A hat-trick against Dublin was the highlight of his year, but with a full-forward line of Mannion, Glynn and Canning it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be goals.
If Galway can pull this off a -3 handicap at 4/1 could be the bet of the Championship and if you want to go a little bit different with the first goalscorer Johnny Glynn is 16/1 and Cathal Mannion is at 10/1. Whatever way this game goes it’s going to be interesting.