Match Preview: Galway v Tipperary
If they win, Tipperary qualify for a fifth All-Ireland final appearance in seven years. Repeat the trick next year, six in eight, and they'll equal the teams of 1958-65, from the most acclaimed period in the county's tradition. Something about that not sound right? There is an important difference, of course, in that the hurlers of Jimmy Doyle's time won five of the six All-Ireland finals played. This generation has won once.
The last county to end Tipperary's interest in the championship outside of Kilkenny was Waterford in 2008. In 2010, Galway came close and last year, Tipp got the upper hand in the final 20 minutes after trailing by six points. Galway arrive on the back of five matches and energised by a 2-28 scoring exhibition against Cork.
When the teams met last year, Jonathan Glynn was unmanageable and the Tipp emergency repairs that followed found a new role for James Barry at full-back. Glynn, now operating at half-forward, showed three weeks ago how he may now be an ever greater influence on Galway's mood, offering a big hand for puck-outs and attacking in direct lines. Many of the Galway attack are on song, coming into the match full of confidence.
Defensively, the jury remains uncertain. The qualifier game last year saw Galway concede three goals to Seamus Callanan, who no longer has those Croke Park reservations attached to his name. John Hanbury is a sturdy, no-frills work-in-progress, Johnny Coen is a fine hurler and Pádraig Mannion one of the best to emerge this year.
But Callanan, with his nose for goals, and John O'Dwyer, one of the sweetest strikers in the country, are serious threats in a forward unit renowned for fluency when unpicking defences in full flight.
Galway have questions further out, too, with concern over whether Iarla Tannian can hold up at centre-back. Galway forwards won't have the same room as they enjoyed against Cork and when they don't have ball, they need to take a leaf out of Kilkenny's book and help relieve the pressure on their own backs if the ball is being delivered back downfield.
Galway can expect more from Joe Canning, too, but there is that lingering question: how bad were Cork?
Tipperary have enough quality to cope and hard experience of days like this. Galway are a serious threat. But the familiar doubt about them remains.
Galway: C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, P Mannion; A Harte, I Tannian, Daithi Burke; A Smith, David Burke; C Whelan, C Donnellan, J Glynn; J Flynn, J Canning, C Mannion.
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, C O'Brien; R Maher, P Maher, K Bergin; J Woodlock, S McGrath; J Forde, B Maher, P Maher; J O'Dwyer, S Callanan, N O'Meara.
Sunday Indo Sport