Sunday 22 September 2019

'Anything can happen on All-Ireland final day' - Cork legend Brid Stack backing Galway to put it up to Dublin

Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne and Galway captain Tracey Leonard. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne and Galway captain Tracey Leonard. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

With all the hype around the men’s All-Ireland final replay on Saturday, it’s unfortunate that an event which a combined figure of nearly 100,000 attended the last two years has been overshadowed somewhat.

Yet, when the dust has settled by Sunday afternoon and we know whether or not Dublin have managed to make history by completing the drive for five, another team in blue will hit the Croke Park turf attempting to write their own chapter.

For Dublin, it’s Connacht champions Galway that stand in the way of their dream of securing three titles on the spin. Of course, it’s only in the men’s game where the five-in-a-row remains the holy grail with the feat already achieved on three occasions in Ladies Football. Kerry were the originals, the first of a staggering nine consecutive crowns ironically arriving the same year that Seamus Darby’s goal saw their men’s team fell at the final hurdle.

After that, it was Munster rivals Cork who hit their first five in 2009 before losing their crown to Dublin.

But that wasn’t the end as they rebounded to claim another six in a period of dominance unrivalled in any code, with the exception of Dublin’s ownership of the camogie landscape from an era that straddled the 40s and the 60s.

Having been present for all 11 of those Cork titles, before finally called time on her illustrious career last January, is Brid Stack who’s clearly well placed to comment on what makes a likely winner.

And while the Cork legend believes Dublin deserve their favourites tag, she’s certain that Galway will provide a tougher nut to crack than their 13/2 odds suggest.

"No one is giving Galway much of a chance but they’ve always been a side that Dublin struggle with in the league. They’ve been a real thorn in Dublin’s side," Stack told Independent.ie’s GAA podcast The Throw-In, in association with Bord Gais Energy.

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"Come the Championship, maybe it’s the case of that Galway have been lacking a bit of confidence the last couple of years and just can’t seem to make the final step over the line.

"But it’s a new look Galway this year and while their form has been a bit up and down, they have ground out wins when it really mattered. A Galway team of old may not have done that. The fact is that there’s a renewed sense of belief there.

"They’re finishing out games, they’re seeing out games. They’re running very hard at defences and that’s something they’ll definitely need to do against Dublin."

It’s a first final for Galway since Cork began their run with victory over the Tribeswomen in 2005, during which time Dublin have contested seven, winning three. But the Galway set-up isn’t short of All-Ireland-winning experience with various members of their U21 2017 title-winning side having graduated. And Stack also believes the experience in the backroom can help ensure a competitive showpiece for the ladies game on Sunday.

"This is a Galway team that I had tipped at the start of the year. They’re a side that have progressed even in the space of the last 12 months," she concluded.

"They got to a league semi-final last year, they got to a league final this year. They got to the Championship semi-final last year, they’re in an All-Ireland final this year.

"Tim Rabbitt and his management team have been a fantastic fit for this side. He’s a real solid, calm level-headed guy. “In particular, Mike Comer came in as their strength and conditioning coach. He’s been involved with the Corofin men’s team for their All-Ireland winning campaign so he brings huge experience to this Galway side. They’re starting to reap the benefits over the last couple of years.

"Galway are definitely there on merit. It’s an All-Ireland final and anything can happen on All-Ireland final day.”

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