Sunday 22 July 2018

Tribesmen and Cats to head for Thurles as Bublé has Croker already booked out

Lucinda Gahan, from Kilkenny, with Galway fans outside Croke Park. Photo: Caroline Quinn.
Lucinda Gahan, from Kilkenny, with Galway fans outside Croke Park. Photo: Caroline Quinn.

Ryan Nugent at Croke Park

The crash, bang and wallop of Leinster hurling will be replaced by the soothing sounds of Michael Bublé at GAA HQ - sending Galway and Kilkenny out of the capital to finish what they started.

Tipperary is the destination for the replay of the All-Ireland champions and hurling's kingpins, after TJ Reid completed a last-gasp clawback for the Cats at Croker for an 18-points apiece draw.

For the coming week, the hallowed turf of Croker will instead be covered in plastic ahead of the concert.

A relief surely for the pitch manager, as the heatwave sees the introduction of a hosepipe ban.

In Thurles, as could be seen from yesterday's Munster clash, the pitch was already in tatters.

As for yesterday's drawn game, however, was there finally a sign that Kilkenny were back in serious contention for Liam MacCarthy?

Padraic O Neachtain and his daughter Caoimhe, from Moycullen, after the match. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Padraic O Neachtain and his daughter Caoimhe, from Moycullen, after the match. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Silly question, really.

"Oh, Kilkenny are back," Patrick McCormack from Johnstown said, before correcting himself.

"Kilkenny never went away.

"I thought Galway were probably the better team on the day, we were lucky to get away with the draw.

"I'm confident about the replay now, because I think there's more in the tank for Kilkenny and hopefully the next day we'll get the win."

The thing is, this view of the game was represented by both sets of supporters, with those out singing for the Tribesmen feeling that their team would have more to give next time out.

This clash was by no means a game for the ages.

Scrappy, with plenty of wides and the look of an inevitable Galway victory, until the sensational TJ had the final say.

"Kilkenny are never beaten. That's the thing that Kilkenny have over every team," Padraic O Neachtain from Maigh Cuilinn, Co Galway, said.

"They never lay down, they never say die and that's pretty much how it was there.

"We were three points up with a few minutes to go and they managed to bring it back in."

Last week, Galway captain David Burke had said that Kilkenny now fear them.

It's probably a safe bet that those words were repeated in the Kilkenny dressing room before the game.

But it's not the worst mindset to have going into Sunday's replay, Gerard Cheavers (27) from Carnmore, Galway, said.

He was confident that a repeat of previous replays with the Cats won't materialise.

"We've had so many days in Croke Park, where you get the draw the first day and come back in the replay and they absolutely hockey us off the pitch, but you know the feeling is different this year," he said.

"The tables have turned somewhat," he said, adding that the Galwegians will be feeling like they left that game behind them.

"It could be the kick in the a**e that Galway needed, without actually losing."

Larry Dowd, from Kilkenny city, said he thought his side were gone as the clock ticked into the 70th minute. "Then again, Kilkenny are never gone until the whistle blows," he said.

With Kilkenny 5/2 for victory yesterday, this was a rare occasion when they weren't the favourites.

"I think we'll beat Galway in the replay," Larry added.

So, following a match where both sides looked like they had much more to give, supporter confidence is still high in both camps as all roads lead to Semple Stadium. But something has got to give.

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