Sport Hurling

Thursday 28 August 2014

Kilkenny will take Galway – but not before serious scrap

John Mullane

Published 16/06/2014 | 02:30

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Johnny Coen, Galway

WILL the real Galway please stand up on Sunday in Tullamore?

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The Tribesmen were below par against Laois in the Leinster quarter-final, but still managed to come through.

It's perhaps reminiscent of 2012, when Galway struggled past Westmeath before turning up the heat against Offaly and Kilkenny.

The venue will stand to them. And I'm suspecting they might revert to the system that worked so well against Kilkenny two years ago, when Damien Hayes played as a third midfielder. Johnny Coen is suited to this role and I expect Anthony Cunningham is strongly considering it.

The two Burkes – Niall and David – need to find some form again as they are central to Galway's hopes. The positioning of Joe Canning will be crucial.

I've banged this drum before, but it's clear to me Joe is wasted in the full-forward line. I'd always play him somewhere in the half-forward line or at midfield. Cunningham will also wonder if Joe should go back on the frees, or if Conor Cooney should be left hitting them.

In fairness to Cooney, he was one of Galway's best players during the league and the emergence of Pádraig Brehony is another huge plus. In addition, Galway have the pace of Jason Flynn and Cathal Mannion to call on in attack and I can see the Tribesmen bringing a massive physicality to this game.

There won't be a whole lot in it, but the Cats do possess the firepower to hurt Galway. Still, Galway will know Kilkenny are vulnerable when run at in the half-back line and I think this is an area Galway will really target. In the league semi-final, Galway put it up to Kilkenny for long spells, but it's still Kilkenny for me, by two or three points.

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