Monday 20 January 2020

League comeback against Déise gave us platform - Burke

Captain insists best two teams are in final

Galway's David Burke. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Galway's David Burke. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's a convenient symmetry for the week that's in it.

Pointing to Galway's come-from-behind win against Waterford in their league quarter-final clash as the turning point this season fits neatly into the narrative in the build-up to Sunday's All-Ireland SHC final.

Captain David Burke does nothing to dissuade that line of thinking. That day his side hit an unanswered 1-7 to steal into a league semi-final in what was their first taste of top-tier opposition this term. Micheál Donoghue's men have been unbeaten since and now stand just one step away from ending a 29-year wait to bring Liam MacCarthy back across the Shannon to Galway.

"I was just chatting to the cousins there," Burke said of that clash with the Déise at Galway's pre All-Ireland final media day in Loughrea.

"They wouldn't go to many games but they left that one early because we were so far down. I said to them don't come to a game for the rest of the year!

"But yeah, it was massive and I remember leaving that day and I think people felt afterwards that there was something good to get onto there. Then there was a massive crowd in Limerick for the semi-final and for the final. And we are grateful for that support."

They have been gathering momentum and support since then, playing with the type of consistency that had so often been beyond them. Galway have won ten games on the bounce now across league, Leinster championship and the All-Ireland series since seeing their promotion hopes go down in flames when losing at home to Wexford in February.

Sunday will be familiar territory for Galway. Some of the squad were involved in the 2012 All-Ireland final defeat. More of them were there when they lost to the Cats in 2015 after a replay but they go into Sunday's final as favourites.

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The feeling in Galway is that they are finally ready to win again. Former star Damien Hayes tipped Galway for the All-Ireland at the start of the summer and the panel have been waiting for another chance since last year.

Burke admits his 'frustration at having to watch last year's All-Ireland final when they came so close to seeing off would-be champions Tipperary. In that context, beating them in this year's semi-final was particularly sweet.

"It was frustrating watching the All-Ireland final last year to see what might have been. But Tipp probably were the better team in the second half against us. And the two boys we lost had a bearing too.

"So it is nice to be back here now in an All-Ireland final. They were obviously All-Ireland champions and looked in serious form... In games like that where they are so tight it can go either way. If Daithi (Burke) hadn't caught that last ball and Padraic Mannion hadn't intercepted the pass, there were scores there. It comes down to small little things like that.

"And lucky enough in the last play we managed to work the score. That was the most pleasing thing. It wasn't pretty hurling but we managed to get over the line. It mightn't have been the classic it was last year. It was a real battle all over the field. Every line and every area, it was hard marking and hard graft to get possession and it was everything you'd want in a tight hurling game. Hard to get scores as well. So we are delighted to come through that game."

It's a novel pairing this weekend but Burke insists there's no doubt the finalists represents the two best teams in the country.

"Because you have to prepare yourself for every game and you do put a small percentage into the other team and look at it... a week from the game we will be focusing on that. It doesn't really change.

"I suppose Tipp and Kilkenny not being there is probably a bit strange for people looking on. But I think nobody can complain that Waterford and Galway weren't the best teams in the championship this year.

"It is a final everyone will be happy with. It is a final with new champions and a massive gap since they won the last time. So the neutral will be thrilled with this spectacle of hurling.

"I think everyone in the country will want both teams to kind of win so it will be interesting to see what other counties will be supporting who. So from that sense it will be a massive spectacle for hurling."

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