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.