Thursday 18 January 2018

Galway need to curb Hogan-Reid double act

Kilkenny player TJ Reid
Kilkenny player TJ Reid

The sight of Kilkenny forwards galloping virtually unchallenged around Wexford defenders as if they had been hit by tranquillising darts won't have inspired confidence among Galway supporters as they head for Croke Park tomorrow.

It proved yet again that unless a team gets everything right, it has no chance against Kilkenny. And when it gets as much wrong as Wexford did, prepare for carnage.

Galway are better equipped than Wexford to deal with Kilkenny, but they've got to slot all the pieces together - and quickly - to give themselves a real opening. The first priority is to stay solid in the first quarter. Sounds basic, but if you don't do it against Kilkenny, second chances don't usually apply.

In terms of setting the team up, Anthony Cunningham has to decide whether to man-mark key men, such as Richie Hogan and TJ Reid (right) or play straight-up. They need to combine both. Assign close markers to Hogan and Reid but hold their shape, with others dropping into the gaps as required.

Take a leaf out of Kilkenny's book. They're brilliant at compressing the lines all the way back so that their defenders are rarely caught one v one. The Galway defence need a big step-up on their previous displays and they must get support from further out. They also need to move the ball fast - and not get dragged into a war.

On the plus side, Galway have proven before that, on their day, they can match Kilkenny better than anyone else. You'd still have to fancy Kilkenny but Galway should do well enough to take encouragement into the quarter-finals.

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