Galway seeking big improvement for Leinster final replay against Kilkenny

Galway's Conor Whelan tries to break free from Kilkenny's Paddy Deegan during Sunday's Leinster hurling final at Croke Park.
Galway's Conor Whelan tries to break free from Kilkenny's Paddy Deegan during Sunday's Leinster hurling final at Croke Park.

ALTHOUGH Galway boast a clean bill of health heading into this Sunday’s Leinster SHC final replay against Kilkenny at Semple Stadium, Thurles, manager Micheal Donoghue was acutely aware that a certain level of care will still be required if Galway are to deliver an improved display this Sunday (3pm).

You wouldn’t have said Donoghue cut a disgruntled figure after last Sunday’s 0-18 apiece draw against the Cats at Croke Park but you could read by his gait that he wasn’t overly enamoured by a Galway performance that fell short of the high standards they have set.

Indeed, from a Galway perspective, the stats, as officially compiled for the GAA by official statistics partner Sure, made for some stark reading afterwards. In the possession stakes, Galway were outdone by Kilkenny on a 54-46 percentage while, on their own puckout, they only claimed 12 of their 28.

On any other day, that would have been damning but, by the same token, Kilkenny also malfunctioned in this regard – winning just 14 of their 30 restarts – and it was incredibly that both sides secured more primary possession from their opponent’s puckouts than their own.

Other than that, there was little between the sides in the various other areas, although Kilkenny did win more of the aerial duels than Galway – 12 to 9 – but this was off-set by the Tribesmen executing more tackles, 31 to 22, on the Cats over the 70 minutes plus.

In general, though, Donoghue admitted there were certain aspects of their performance they were disappointed in. “Some of our play looked a bit off at times but, as I said, that game will stand to us now and we will just look forward to next week.”

No doubt, it was one of the most physical and intense games Galway had played in some time but the Tribesmen will look to get to the pitch of the action much sooner this Sunday against a Kilkenny outfit that continue to improve.

“They have quality players,” said Donoghue. “They won the (National) League and they had some massive wins in the championship so we are under no illusion that they were going to be a big challenge. I think people write them off and think they have gone away and that is not true like. That is evident in their performances.

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