Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cyril Farrell: Mental block comes back to haunt Galway

Once Kilkenny moved through the gears, Tribesmen didn't have answers yet again

Conor Whelan of Galway dejected after the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Kilkenny. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Whelan of Galway dejected after the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Kilkenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

The same old story and just like last year's All-Ireland final, Galway have no excuses to fall back on. When you build a three-point half-time lead against Kilkenny, you have to be able to take advantage and lessons weren't learned.

Galway were excellent in the first half but they just couldn't live with the power of Kilkenny when they moved through the gears.

The biggest concern I would have is that there seems to be a mental block with Galway when it comes to playing Kilkenny and they're going to have to rid themselves of that if they are to win anything.

To me, it isn't a hurling thing and that was shown in the first half yesterday and last September. I was sitting in the stand and I thought to myself, 'Okay, Galway are here in the same situation. Can they kick on?'

The answer was a firm 'no'.

When Galway start haemorrhaging, they haemorrhage very badly. They weren't good enough to drive on but they were playing a seriously good team and Kilkenny do deserve credit.

Galway will have to take the positives from the defeat however. They'll know that they won't face a team as good as Kilkenny the next day.

There'll be a temptation there to make a few switches. They were forced into changes yesterday but they were very late in making them. Some lads out there were left on too long, in my view.


A large part of Brian Cody's success is down to his ability to make big calls and Kilkenny's game-plan usually remains the same whilst doing so.

The secret is that there is no secret in Kilkenny. They play a very simple game and it was nice to see fluid hurling up and down the pitch and not this congested stuff in the middle of midfield.

The one common factor in all of their victories over the last 16 years is Cody himself.

I can't remember too many times when Eoin Larkin has been called ashore at half-time but Cody isn't afraid to make that kind of decision.

More times than not, the players coming on don't let their manager down and that was the case again.

Richie Hogan came on at half-time and was just the real game-changer. John Power did a lot of work when he went into centre-forward but it was Richie who was the real catalyst for yet another Leinster title. He is a gem.

TJ Reid found it easier to find space when Richie was on the pitch and when those two are in form, there are very few defenders who can live with them.

To be a called a great player, you have to be able to do it on the big day in Croke Park. A quick scan through Kilkenny's big game players and the likes of Reid and Hogan stood up when it was counted.

The Galway players need to learn from that. They need big games out of a lot more players and it's really as simple as that.

They fall away when it matters most and that is a mental block that they have developed. They'll have to regroup and have a look at themselves this week in training.


There will have to be a shared blame in the dressing room and not finger-pointing like there was last year. That won't be tolerated again.

Kilkenny outscored Galway 1-16 to 0-9 points in the second half, which is remarkable really, but we've seen it all before.

Conor Fogarty set up Jonjo Farrell's goal brilliantly and as soon as that went in, it was like a car tyre getting punctured. Even though Galway got it back to a point, the momentum was gone and Kilkenny pulled away again.

It's like falling off a horse and Galway have fallen off enough times to know how to get back up. They will get another chance and that is crucial because if it was the old system, they would be gone until next year.

Kilkenny are there to be knocked. It's up to other teams to get their house in order if they are to get to their level. Kilkenny won't be worrying about anyone else other than themselves but there is no doubt that the gap is widening.

They've been beaten so little that the belief in one another is massive. They know that they have the ability to grind out results and every other team in the country will know that they have a couple of more gears left to move through.

Some teams still playing catch-up

I feel sorry for the likes of Laois and Offaly who are trying to get to the standard that those around them are setting. They just aren’t where they want to be at the moment.

It’s constantly a hard graft for them. Eventually it will turn for them again but a long road lies ahead. It won’t happen overnight.

Laois felt the full brunt of a Clare side who were hungry. They have a full panel of players who are pushing one another for places in the starting team and that’s crucial. They put pressure on themselves to bounce back after the Munster semi-final defeat.

Tony Kelly was back to his best and for me, he’s like the Messi of hurling – he’s fantastic to watch in full flow.

If Wexford got a few of the lads back that they are missing they would have a strong nucleus of a team that could do well. Dublin played well enough too considering they were a man down but I always felt Cork would have the edge at home.

The worrying thing about Dublin is the fact that players seem to be dropping off the panel. Danny Sutcliffe has been a huge loss all year and the same could be said for Johnny Glynn and Galway. Both of those players would make most teams in the country.

I don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, maybe there are legitimate reasons, but lads not making themselves available doesn’t look good from the outside looking in.

You need everyone because the quality in the back-up players just isn’t there. Some teams will have young fellas coming through in the minors but the step up to senior is a big one.

Irish Independent

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