Sunday 16 June 2019

Cyril Farrell: It may look like different rules, but Thurles the right call for replay

Jonathan Glynn wins the ball over Enda Morrissey in one of several
superb aerial battles in the Leinster SHC final. Photo: Sportsfile
Jonathan Glynn wins the ball over Enda Morrissey in one of several superb aerial battles in the Leinster SHC final. Photo: Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

If there was one thing that stood out about the Leinster final, it was the aerial power from both teams - a magnificent display of high fielding from Galway and Kilkenny.

Now, some might see the low score as a negative from a spectator's standpoint, but to me it showed a defensive masterclass from both sets of backs. In particular, Pádraig Walsh and Dáithí Burke were outstanding.

This was a very different Kilkenny to the one we saw slump to an eight-point defeat to Galway back in May. Cody's decision to move the likes of Paul Murphy to corner-back made them very solid, as did having Richie Leahy and Billy Ryan starting. They had a stronger team and the subs also made a big difference.

Both sets of backs got on top and both teams found it hard to create goal chances, especially Galway, but it was Kilkenny who brought more intensity in the first half. If there was any doubt about the Cats' chances of challenging for the Liam MacCarthy, this game dispelled them. People seem to forget they won the league and you don't win that lightly, and they've proved now they should be around at the business end of the year - yet again.

It was only at half-time that Galway got their act together, and a lot of that could be explained by this being their first real test since the All-Ireland. They needed a hard match, and the game will bring them on more than Kilkenny and get them finely tuned.

The decision to send the replay to Thurles is, I think, a sensible one although it seems a little peculiar that Waterford weren't allowed to play their Munster round-robin games in Nowlan Park and now we have a Leinster team facing a Connacht team in a Leinster final in Tipperary.

It might show that there are different rules for different counties, but with Croker out of commission, it's a great alternative - super pitch, big stadium and it'll make a good host for round two of this bout.

At this level I don't think fatigue will be an issue. If players want to dwell on it, it could become one, but a lot of that is mind over matter. For the managers, the main thing is to get them to look forward to the game and the moment they walked off the pitch yesterday they seemed to be doing that.

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It was a very different game to the one we saw in Munster, but it was still a magnificent demonstration of hurling. There wasn't one angry stroke in the game - it was all fought very hard, very physical, but then players got up and got on with it, the way it should be.

Finally, a huge congrats to Carlow on their victory in the Joe McDonagh Cup, a team that'll be a well-deserving and welcome addition to the Leinster Championship next season.

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