Champs braced for tough challenge from unlucky Dubs in final round-robin tie

Galway's Joseph Cooney is chased by Dublin's Eoghan O'Donnell during last year's Leinster championship clash in Tullamore.
Galway's Joseph Cooney is chased by Dublin's Eoghan O'Donnell during last year's Leinster championship clash in Tullamore.

HOW has the Leinster hurling championship been for us so far? Well, if it’s drama and high-wire finishes we are after, the Munster equivalent has wiped out what’s happening in the east where Galway are on a different level to the rest.

They took out Offaly by a dozen points, had eight to spare over Kilkenny before recording a routine 1-23 to 0-17 win over Wexford last Saturday evening. The Leinster title race is turning into a stroll for the All-Ireland champions.

No opposition has yet to land a glove on Galway and now it’s Dublin opportunity to have a crack at David Burke and company when they follow in Kilkenny’s footsteps in making their Leinster championship debut at Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening (7pm).

At first glance, the match has all the appearances of a dead rubber. Firstly, the unlucky Dubs can’t advance in the championship regardless of the result, while the Tribesmen are already through to the provincial decider on the first day of July.

But look at the fixture a little more deeply and you will find a couple of reasons why Dublin will have no interest in going through the motions. After all, they only lost narrowly to both Kilkenny and Wexford, while their new team management will be anxious to road test the potential of their squad against the best team out there.

Furthermore, there is the Anthony Cunningham factor. Having been controversially hounded out of the Galway manager’s post by the players just a couple of months after leading the Tribesmen to the 2016 All-Ireland final, the Dublin coach wouldn’t be human if he didn’t hold strong ambitions about turning over his native county.

And what of Galway’s intent? The great Kilkenny teams under Brian Cody were never influenced by the level of importance of their matches. It was all about winning and consistency. They were ruthless too; always striving to humiliate any opposition they perceived as a threat to them.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.