Cyril Farrell explains why he knew Galway would be All-Ireland champions since February 5
Cyril Farrell, the man who masterminded Galway's three All-Ireland hurling triumphs in the 1980s, know it would be Galway's year on February 5.
It was the date of the Walsh Cup final and although the Tribesmen lost out on a scoreline of 0-20 to 0-18, Farrell had seen enough to suggest that the 29-year wait for Liam MacCarthy would soon be coming to an end.
The game didn't feature the likes of Joe Canning, David Burke, Daithí Burke, Conor Cooney and Gearoid McInerney was only introduced as a second half substitute.
The ability being illustrated by Galway's fringe players convinced Farrell that All-Ireland glory was imminent.
"It was on the way home from a Walsh Cup game between Galway and Kilkenny earlier this year when it just clicked in my head that ‘this is our year’ and I’ve never been as happy to say I told you so," he wrote in his column in today's Irish Independent.
"All year I felt Galway looked like a different outfit, that they had parked a lot of the grief from previous failures. And unlike other years, there was a competitive panel to pick from, with the evidence bearing fruit as Niall Burke and Jason Flynn tipped the balance following their introduction.
"There’s a sense of pure relief around the county after 29 years of hurt. This group has suffered final heartbreak before, knowing the hurt of going home on the Monday and wanting the ground to swallow you up, and they bottled that every day they went out this year."
One of Galway's failings in recent years has been their over-reliance on the brilliance of Joe Canning but his fellow forwards have stepped up to the mark in 2017.
"It was of little consequence that Joe Canning didn’t give a tour de force display yesterday; that would have killed previous Galway teams, but not this one. For years he had to do everything, but others have come to the fore to take the pressure off," he added.
"Our forwards won the day and not just on the scoreboard; their tackling was ferocious and while Waterford were organised and tactically astute, they wouldn’t have run into anything like that physicality before. As well as that, all six attackers were capable of popping up with a score.
"I’ve always said that goals win matches, but Galway haven’t hit the net in nearly 300 minutes, instead adapting their game and showing an ability to shoot from the outside.
"If a team is good enough to execute that four days in a row and clock up huge tallies, no sweeper system will beat you and an All-Ireland is well deserved."