Tuesday 16 January 2018

Cyril Farrell: Only thing that can stop Tribe from reaching the summit is themselves

The Galway captain David Burke leads the team in the traditional pre-match parade before the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
The Galway captain David Burke leads the team in the traditional pre-match parade before the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

One thing that separated the great Kilkenny team from the chasing pack was that there was always a different forward popping up to give a man-of-the-match display and Galway are following suit.

Many times it was Henry Shefflin but on other occasions it was Eddie Brennan or numerous others, but they never had to rely on the same face every day. For too long Galway have needed Joe Canning to deliver a five-star display or a win was out of the question but it's no longer a one-man show.

Having different players shining on different days shows how much they have progressed and with Matt O'Hanlon keeping a close eye on Canning and limiting his scoring impact, Conor and Joseph Cooney were stepping up to the plate and going to town up front. They were unplayable at times.


Galway can finally boast that each forward is capable of giving a match-winning contribution and while Wexford offered a different challenge, solutions were found there and then on the pitch and that's not always been the case. Rather than reviewing a game after a loss and making changes, they can think on their feet now.

The leaders like Gearóid McInerney, David Burke and Canning are standing up and solving the puzzles that are presented to them and it's great that they refused to be dictated to by Wexford. They have the hurlers and it's going to take a great team to stop them if they can keep doing what they're doing.

This is a very big year for them, they've been there or thereabouts for five years and winning the Leinster title was a big goal of theirs. If they had came up second best it would've taken a lot more out of them than Wexford because Davy Fitz is only starting out there.

The team looks settled at the back and Dáithí Burke and McInerney have filled the problematic spine with both excellent in the air while Aidan Harte and Pádraic Mannion on the wings are quality operators. Even though Wexford threatened a bit Galway were more or less on top everywhere.

Wexford kept trying but there was only going to be one winner and it was a nice lead to go in with at the break despite not firing on all cylinders. Galway took everything Wexford threw at them on the chin and drove on again.

I've said it all along that it's Galway's All-Ireland to lose this year, they have all the tools to make it happen and they're in a semi-final now and have momentum. They hadn't won a title in five years and now if the feet stay on the ground they could end up with the three most important trophies that they contest by September.

They don't like to be All-Ireland favourites but you couldn't have anyone else ahead of them, they've done everything that's been asked of them and there was always an air of inevitability in the second half of yesterday's game.

If they can get goal or two from now on they won't be beaten and I'm not that worried that they haven't hit the net in the last two games. Galway are a goalscoring side but the opposition's set-up has forced them to adapt and shoot from outside the last two days.

Something they'll have to cut out are these pot shots from distance, however. You need Canning going well to bring players into the game and throw the ball around because otherwise some lads are taking 'Hail Mary' shots and that won't wash when it really matters.

Another concern would be when they come up against 15 on 15 because recently they've had spare defenders as other teams are playing defensively and the real questions at the back will come when they're forced to go man-on-man in a semi-final or final.

Wexford will be disappointed but they could take a scalp in the quarter-final. They're only beginning their journey and will be a force but Galway had a lot to lose.

This is their best squad in a long time and I think Galway are the only ones that can stop themselves from winning an All-Ireland.

Irish Independent

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