Saturday 18 August 2018

'There has been shadow-boxing going on' - Eoin Kelly believes Kilkenny-Galway Leinster decider will be 'extraordinary'

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody arrives at the ground ahead of the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 5 match between Kilkenny and Wexford at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody arrives at the ground ahead of the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 5 match between Kilkenny and Wexford at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Tipp legend Eoin Kelly believes that despite a big win for Galway over Kilkenny in the round robin series, the Cats will pose a big threat to Micheál Donoghue’s side in the Leinster final.

Kilkenny staged a late comeback against Wexford on Saturday to secure a spot in this year’s Leinster final. Brian Cody’s men trailed by nine points early in the second half, but the Model men ran out of gas and Kilkenny nabbed a single point victory.

The win sets up a Leinster final clash with the All-Ireland champions, who came out eight point victors when the sides met in Salthill in May. Despite their comprehensive defeat that day, Kelly said that he thinks Kilkenny will make Galway work for a victory.

Speaking on The Throw-In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast, he said that the Leinster Championship has lacked the intensity exhibited in Munster but that the final will be contested with a similar ferocity. He thinks the game will be evenly balanced.

“There’s a bit of shadow boxing going on in Leinster no doubt about it,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a really intriguing Leinster final. There’s not going to be more than a puck of a ball in that game. I’m really looking forward to that.

“You've had the Munster final and had the skin and hair flying, you’re going to see something extraordinary in that game.”

Kilkenny earned a place in the final by the skin of their teeth. The late surge against Wexford came after the Cats had already pipped Dublin, thanks to a Liam Blanchfield goal in injury time.

Galway on the other hand have dealt easily with every team they faced, other than in their dead rubber tie with Dublin on Saturday.

Kilkenny were suffering with a number of injuries when the sides met in May, and Eoin Kelly thinks that the return of some big names, will bring with it an attitude of superiority, that Cody’s men need when facing the All-Ireland champions. He said that the Cats will feel Galway have something belonging to them, the Bob O'Keeffe Cup.

“Galway were that much the better team in Salthill but now we have a Leinster final,” the two-time All-Ireland winner said.

“We have the Paul Murphys and the Colin Fennellys and the TJ Reid’s. In their DNA they’ve always beaten Galway, bar that Leinster final in 2012.

“That last match was in Salthill, now they’re back in Croke Park, Leinster final. They’ll think, ‘Boys we’re not used to these guys beating us’.

“They’re the current All-Ireland champions. When someone has their prize it ups them 110 percent, saying ‘look they have what’s ours’.”

With six teams (plus the Joe McDonagh Cup finallists) remaining in the race for Liam MacCarthy, Kelly feels the Cats will be Galway’s biggest obstacle between them and back-to-back All-Irelands.

“Galway might have a hiccup along the way,” he said.

“There’s no championship won easy or won comfortable. They play Kilkenny in a Leinster final, and it’s a case that they could end up playing Kilkenny three times in this year’s championship.

“Are Galway going to beat Kilkenny three times in the one season? That’s my question as this championship goes on. Micheál Donoghue will know that he has the foot on Kilkenny now so he has to keep it on them.

“At the end of the day they won the All-Ireland last year, but still they didn’t beat Kilkenny when there was silverware up for grabs. Now’s his chance.”

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