The Daily Shift’s Kevin Bolger takes a look at this weekends all Ireland championship semi final as Leinsteir champions Galway take on Jimmy Barry Murphy’s young guns at Croke Park…
It all happened so fast. That is what the Kilkenny fans will tell you when they speak of the Leinsteir final. Galway blitzed the all Ireland champions in a way that only, well, Kilkenny can, or could. Now it would appear Galway have stepped up to the plate and are ready to start transferring underage success on to the senior stage.
For years we’ve been looking at Galway and speculating over whether or not they were going to put in a credible challenge and every year we’ve been left disappointed. Now Galway are all the buzz after a demolition job of the cats in Croke Park. Joe Canning who would appear to be back to full fitness is now having the impact on the game that you would expect out of one of the best players in the country.
Further down south is Cork and Jimmy Barry Murphy has been weaving some magic in the rebel county. With an infusion of very young and very very old, Cork have been impressive throughout this year. Firstly in the league they showed great promise only to lose out to Kilkenny in the final.
In the championship they took a longer route to the semi final than their opponents but they’ve managed to see off opposition from Offaly, Wexford and most recently Waterford. Waterford gave them the biggest push and thanks to a classic performance from veteran Sean Óg the managed to hold off a far more established Déise outfit.
Galway in contrast haven’t played a competitive game in over a month. Despite an impressive victory they had a very poor league barely surviving the drop from division one. They also struggled in contrast with Kilkenny in reaching the Leinsteir final. The victory against Kilkenny was perhaps the performance of the year by this Galway team and in no way reflective of the standard they have been setting.
I don’t want to call it a fluke because Galway were worth every bit of their victory but one victory does not qualify you as favourites for me by a long shot. Cork have shown far more consistency than Galway throughout the year and for that reason I believe them to be favourites in this match up. Galway who have been gross under performers for several years now lack for me the experience to kick on after such a lengthy lay off.
Cork are an up and coming force and one which I believe are destined to win an all Ireland championship somewhere along the line, but a final against either Kilkenny or Tipperary this year would be a foregone conclusion. Galway may have the stronger belief going in against the two biggest names in hurling in recent years.
For these reasons while I see Cork as being the more likely victors, I believe if we want a change in pace in the hurling championship then we should all have our fingers crossed for Galway, the only team capable of putting the fear in to Kilkenny or Tipperary in this years all Ireland championship.