Cats will win, but not comfortably
WHO would predict anything but a Kilkenny win this weekend? Brian Cody’s Cats hammered Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final and they are up against a county that haven’t won an All-Ireland senior title since 1988.
Before the two teams met in the Leinster final in July, nobody gave Galway a chance of winning, precisely because they were a team famous for their mercurial performances. One week they can be brilliant, the next rubbish.
The storyline is made all the more confusing for Tribe fans by the fact that in the past 20 years the county have lifted eight All-Ireland minor titles and six u-21 trophies.
The only evidence to suggest that Galway may be on the brink of ending their run of under-achievement, is the Tribe’s Leinster final victory.
Yet over two months later, and the prevailing opinion is that that result will go against Galway. Just take a look at what the Ulster players said in our vox pop on the final. They see this game as a chance for Kilkenny to exact revenge on Anthony Cunningham’s Tribes men.
That is certainly how Kilkenny will approach the game. They are good enough to beat Galway, as TJ Reid, Henry Shefflin, Aidan Fogarty and Eoin Larkin proved in that 4-24 to 1-15 demolition of Tipperary. But this game is more than just a test of who has the better hurlers, it is a battle of wills.
Kilkenny want revenge, while Galway must prove that the Leinster win was no fluke.
In many ways, Kilkenny have the easier approach to this game. Revenge is a useful tool to motivate a team.
However, their win against Tipperary will have soothed any doubts, if there were any at all, that the Cats players might have had about their own talents. They may go into this game without the air of invincibility which they might have had but they do have more experience of playing at this level than Galway.
The Cats have played in every All-Ireland final since 2006. The last senior decider in which Galway featured was their 2005 meeting with Cork, which they lost by five points. The last time that Galway met Kilkenny in an All-Ireland SHC decider was in 1993, and Kilkenny won by five that day.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday September 6. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here