Galway aim to avoid a not so magnificent 7
ANTHONY Cunningham took his time before coming out to face the media after the Leinster hurling final victory over Kilkenny and when he finally made an appearance, his message was clear: Galway can't allow this to be another false dawn.
Gloriously sunny mornings, followed by afternoon squalls, have long been a feature of Galway's championship adventures, so Cunningham was keen to stress the importance of ending that unfortunate trend.
"We've had some great days in the past and haven't built on them. We need consistency -- that's the challenge now. It hasn't always been there," he said.
Many of the best performances were in All-Ireland semi-finals, usually against Kilkenny or Cork, followed by some inexplicable implosions in finals. It's somewhat different this time as Galway's big performance came in the relatively new territory of the Leinster final.
However, the question remains the same: can Galway produce two really big championship performances back-to-back?
They managed it in 1980-87-88 when winning All-Ireland titles, but there have been no fewer than seven occasions since the mid-70s when Galway peaked impressively, only to tumble right back down next time out.
Galway 4-15 Cork 2-19 (semi-final)
Kilkenny 2-22 Galway 2-10 (final)
A major breakthrough year for Galway, who earlier won the league title for the first time since 1951. Cork were still favourites to win the All-Ireland semi-final, but Galway hit them for three goals in the first 10 minutes, setting the platform for a win which took them into the All-Ireland final for the first time since 1958. However, that's where the dream ended. Galway started the final well against Kilkenny and led by a goal after 18 minutes, but were out-scored by 2-19 to 1-7 from there on.
Galway 2-14 Cork 1-13 (semi-final)
Kilkenny 2-12 Galway 1-8 (final)
Cork, bidding for a fourth successive All-Ireland title, regained the Munster title and were short-priced favourites beat Galway, who had been trounced by Tipperary in the league final earlier in the season. Galway produced one of those special semi-final days, but fell flat in the final, scoring just 1-8 against a Kilkenny team that didn't have to do anything special to win.
Galway 4-12 Cork 5-5 (semi-final)
Offaly 2-11 Galway 1-12 (final)
An August monsoon kept the attendance down to 8,205 for the semi-final in Croke Park. John Fenton scored 3-2 for Cork, who were reigning All-Ireland champions, but a new-look Galway side weren't to be denied. They were favourites to triumph in the final, but wasted several chances and an experienced Offaly calmly outgunned them.
Galway 4-12 Kilkenny 0-13 (semi-final)
Cork 4-13 Galway 2-15 (final)
Having lost the league final to Kilkenny in May, Galway weren't fancied in the All-Ireland semi-final, but their novel line-up (extra midfielders, fewer forwards) cut loose to record a first championship win over the black and amber for 33 years. It was all so different in the final, where Cork held their nerve and their ground en route to a four-point win.
Galway 1-16 Tipperary 1-14 (semi-final)
Kilkenny 2-17 Galway1-15 (final)
Tipperary were hot favourites to progress to the All-Ireland decider after beating Clare by 18 points in the Munster final, but Galway dominated the first half and held on against a strong revival in an injury-disrupted second period. Galway led by a point at the three-quarter stage of the final, but a late goal by PJ Delaney secured a Kilkenny win.
Galway 2-15 Kilkenny 1-13 (semi-final)
Tipperary 2-18 Galway 2-15 (final)
The first of Galway's three championship wins over Kilkenny in the Brian Cody era was achieved with 14 men for more than half the game after Gregory Kennedy was sent off. Once again, Galway dethroned the All-Ireland champions, but failed to replace them, losing out in the final to Tipperary, for whom captain Tommy Dunne was outstanding.
Galway 5-18 Kilkenny 4-18 (semi-final)
Cork 1-21 Galway 1-16 (final)
There was more Galway trouble for Kilkenny, who trailed by 11 points after 57 minutes before launching a valiant late rally which cut the deficit to three. The Tribesmen were much less explosive in the final, though, trailing most of the way before the Rebels eventually eased out to a five-point win.