History not on Galway's side in bid to pass quarter-final test
GALWAY are facing a major double challenge in Thurles on Sunday, for in addition to the doubts over their well-being after suffering a 12-point defeat by Dublin in the Leinster final, they have the worst record of the four teams involved in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
They have lost their last five quarter-finals, leaving them seeking their first win at this stage of the competition since 2005.
Galway's quarter-final record since the back-door system was launched in 1997 reads: Played 13: Won 3, Drew 1, Lost 9. The wins came against Tipperary in 2000 and 2005, and against Derry in 2001, all at Croke Park.
The wins over Tipperary were very impressive but Derry were out of their depth at a time when the Ulster champions qualified automatically for the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Galway lost to Kilkenny (1997, 2006 and 2007), Waterford (1998, 2009 and 2011), Clare (1999 and 2002) and Tipperary (2010). They drew with Clare in 1999.
It's a very poor overall record in comparison with those of Sunday's other three quarter-finalists.
Kilkenny have won five and drawn one of their six appearances; Cork have won six, drawn one and lost one in eight outings, while Clare have won four, drawn two and lost three from nine quarter-finals.
It's also worrying for Galway that they lost their last quarter-final clash against Waterford by 10 points two years ago in Thurles. Clare, who Galway face this weekend, beat them in the 1999 (replay) and 2002 quarter-finals.
A draw with Clare in 2004 is Kilkenny's only minor blemish on their quarter-final record, while Cork's only setbacks came in 2007, when they drew with Waterford before losing the replay.
While Galway have a disappointing record, they will derive some encouragement from the fact that they beat Clare comfortably in their last two All-Ireland qualifier clashes, in 2009 and 2011.
However, Clare were back on top in this year's league, beating Anthony Cunningham's men by two points in Ennis.
Meanwhile, the All-Ireland semi-final permutations are as follows: (game involving Dublin to be played on August 11, followed a week later by the semi-final featuring Limerick).
If Galway and Kilkenny win, the semi-final pairings will be Dublin v Kilkenny, Galway v Limerick. If Galway and Cork win: Dublin v Cork, Galway v Limerick.
If Clare and Kilkenny win: Dublin v Clare, Kilkenny v Limerick. If Clare and Cork win: Dublin v Cork; Clare v Limerick.
Repeat pairings are obviously to be avoided where possible but if Galway and Kilkenny win there will be a repeat clash since both played Dublin. In that instance, Kilkenny would play Dublin to avoid a repeat of the Leinster final.