YOU wouldn’t want to be Einstein to figure out the level of intensity Kilkenny can be expected to bring to Nowlan Park on Sunday when they host Galway in a crunch Leinster hurling championship round-robin tie (2pm).
The Tribesmen can be braced for a ferocious challenge from the Cats who are still smarting from failing to come out on top in any of the counties’ three provincial championship collisions in 2018. A draw in the Leinster final was the best Kilkenny could do before losing the replay by seven points (1-28 to 3-15).
Galway had already mastered them (1-22 to 2-11) in the earlier round-robin series, leaving Kilkenny with some serious scores to settle. Nobody does revenge like them and it’s easy to imagine Brian Cody stoking their motivational flames this week.
Whatever about Kilkenny losing to the men from the West in Thurles, Croke Park or Pearse Stadium, the prospect of falling on their sacred own turf would be a serious non-runner and probably borders on an affront to their core traditional values.
Against a background of growing local pessimism about the team’s championship prospects, Galway are undoubtedly under pressure to deliver a big statement at the home of Kilkenny hurling.
Of course, Joe Canning’s continuing absence complicates Galway’s hopes of maintaining their recent superiority over Kilkenny, while the form of several key individuals remains a worry, but with the stakes so high on Sunday and a lot of pride at stake, David Burke and company should not be lacking in drive.
Yet, there is a responsibility on the Micheál Donoghue led management to heed the hard evidence of the outings against Carlow and Wexford. Some surgery needs to be carried out and the word on the grapevine is that Galway will have a few changes in personnel for the trip to Kilkenny.
See full preview this week in Tribune Sport.
Galway hurlers stand on brink of first All-Ireland minor three-in-a-row
IT won’t carry the same weight in the eyes of many as it has done in the past, but it’s another big All-Ireland hurling final on Sunday for Galway as Brian Hanley’s minor side get set to take on Kilkenny in search of an historic three in-a-row in Croke Park (throw-in 1pm).
In this the second year since the change in age grade from U-18 to U-17 at minor level, Galway aim to continue their unbeaten run which dates back to their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary back in 2016.
To do so, they will have to overcome familiar opposition in the shape of Richie Mulrooney’s young Cats side, who welcomed Galway into this year’s championship in the All-Ireland quarter-final round-robin, a game which Galway won 3-16 to 2-16 despite a heroic Kilkenny fightback.
Since then, Galway have beaten both Clare and Wexford, while Kilkenny easily disposed of the challenge of Limerick to set-up a revenge mission against the Tribesboys, and Mulrooney will no doubt have his side gunning to ensure there is no repeat result when these two come face-to-face on Sunday.
Much of the talk in the lead-up to the game this side of the Shannon has surrounded the availability of captain Ian McGlynn, who was red carded in the semi-final win against Wexford and Loughrea full-forward Shane Morgan, who was carted off the field in that game’s dying embers.
Thankfully, McGlynn quite rightly had his red card rescinded last Thursday at a disciplinary hearing and the news on Morgan is positive too, though he will have to come through a couple of fitness tests to confirm his availability for Sunday’s clash.
See full preview in Tribune Sport.
Three goals for McInerney as Oranmore/Maree take league spoils
A Sean McInerney hat-trick helped Oranmore/Maree claim the Division 2 hurling league title as they overcame a game Ballinderreen outfit 4-14 to 3-7 on Saturday evening.
The reigning All-Ireland intermediate champions produced an excellent attacking display with all six starting forwards scoring, with 4-11 of their tally coming from play.
They struck 3-3 and only conceded a point in the ten minutes before half time which effectively sealed an impressive victory.
This game started at a blistering pace with Oranmore/Maree carving out a goal opportunity within a minute.
Niall Burke played the ball across to Ronan Hanniffy before his close-range effort was saved by Ballinderreen goalkeeper Michael Kelly. His clearance broke to wing forward Séan Coen who drove through the Oranmore-Maree defence and finishing low to the net.
Gerry McInerney’s Oranmore-Maree side responded with a Niall Burke free, with Conor Hanniffy striking their first score from play.
Niall Coen responded with Ballinderreen’s first point before Oranmore-Maree carved out another goal chance.
Niall Burke cut in from the wing forward position but his batted effort was clawed away by Kelly. Burke pointed the resulting 65 with Shane Larkin responding for Ballinderreen.
See full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune Sport.
It’s a waiting game for minor hurlers
SHANE Morgan, the Galway minor hurler who suffered a head injury and was stretchered off the field at the end of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park, is recovering at home in Loughrea after being released from the Mater Hospital on Monday evening.
Morgan suffered a form of concussion when hitting his head off some endline hoarding after being struck by a Wexford player in a nasty late flare up. According to team manager, Brian Hanley, he is in good spirits and will have a head injury assessment on Friday to determine his availability for the final against Kilkenny in over a fortnight’s time.
The Galway camp will also be keeping their fingers crossed that next week’s appeal against team captain’s Ian McGlynn red card will be successful. The Kilconieron teenager was sent to the line after a second-half off-the-ball incident, but even neutrals thought referee Colm Cunning’s sanction was harsh.
Hanley is obviously hoping that both players will be cleared to line out in the final. “They are key performers for us, but we are also planning for the worst case scenario. We have plenty of good lads on the panel to carry the can.”
See full report and reaction in Connacht Tribune Sport.