Monday 24 July 2017

Henry Shefflin and Ger Loughnane outline why Galway are primed to end 29-year wait for Liam MacCarthy

Joe Canning of Galway celebrates with supporters at the end of the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Joe Canning of Galway celebrates with supporters at the end of the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Galway have shortened to 6/4 favourites to be crowned All-Ireland hurling champions after claiming a second Leinster crown with a nine-point victory over Wexford today.

Their league final demolition of reigning champions Tipperary saw them installed as the most likely winners of the Liam MacCarthy in September and there was no evidence at Croke Park to change that.

Their free-scoring forwards, mobile midfield, strong defensive unit and aerial prowess, coupled with the fact that most of their main rivals have big challenges to negotiate before they join the Tribesmen in the last four, mean Micheal O'Donoghue's men are well placed to end the 29-year wait for an All-Ireland.

The Sunday Game panel were extremely impressed with the nature of their victory today and the level of consistency they are showing in 2017.

"They have scored 2-90 in three games, you can't ask any more that that. They have great weapons in attack and it sends out a serious message to the rest of the country," Ken McGrath told RTE.

"They are a serious team.

"To me, they're favourites and they are in the driving seat to get the big one."

Henry Shefflin believes galway have brought their game forward from last year.

"They have made improvements. They won the Leinster title on 2012 when no one expected them to and they were very close to winning the All-Ireland that year," he said.

"We've been talking about them since and I think they were very professional in what they did today.

"Their strength, their age profile is very good. For me, what stood out in the second half, they were so dominant in the sky. Galway cleaned out Wexford in the second half in the sky.

"Conor Whelan scored five points the last day, didn't score today. What happens? Conor Cooney scores points, Joseph Cooney scores. They have that spread (of scorers). Up until now, they were depending on Joe to do it every day. Now I think there is a greater spread.

"They look very good but it's still only July.

"The six defenders are playing together since the start of the year and you can see that they are a very strong unit."

Ger Loughnane seemed most impressed by the reaction from the Galway players to regaining the Bob O'Keeffe Cup.

"This was a step, not a destination. You can see that they have nothing in their mind this year but the All-Ireland," he said.

"You can see that in the club championship in Galway. The county players are not playing well because they are concentrated on this. I have never seen that in Galway before."

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