Donnellan tipped to start as Galway delay naming final line-up
GALWAY have delayed announcing their team until tonight, raising speculation that there will be at least one change for their first All-Ireland SHC final since 2005.
It is widely expected that Cyril Donnellan, who was on the bench for their semi-final victory over Cork, will return to the starting 15.
The Padraig Pearse's player missed out on a starting berth last time with a chipped bone in his arm but has recovered and played a full part in internal training games in the build-up.
Donnellan was named to start against Cork but was replaced before throw-in by James Regan, who did well and scored 0-2 from play before Donnellan replaced him in the final 10 minutes.
Galway usually release their team late on Thursday nights and the change with tradition has fuelled rumours that there will be a change as the management like to inform the players of their selection before they release it publicly.
Kilkenny are also not naming their team until tonight but that is their usual practice.
The Cats will have at least one enforced change because of the loss of midfielder Michael Rice due to the bad hand injury he suffered in their semi-final victory over Tipperary.
He was replaced then by U-21 star Cillian Buckley who did well and has already garnered plenty of experience during his debut year on the senior squad.
The 20-year-old from Dicksboro started in midfield beside Michael Fennelly when Kilkenny beat Galway (3-26 to 0-10) in the league in April, when Rice was picked at wing-forward.
And when Kilkenny were missing both of their first-choice midfielders for their Leinster final, which they lost heavily to Galway, Buckley again started in midfield.
Yet it is believed that Paddy Hogan, who lined out beside Buckley in the Leinster final, is also firmly in the reckoning for the vacant midfield spot.
Hogan's younger brother Richie is available again to Kilkenny's attack after missing out through suspension the last day.
An All Star last year when he scored a particularly spectacular goal in the final, Richie Hogan is recognised as a big-game player with a burst of speed that can open up defences.
But Ballyhale's TJ Reid, who replaced him against Tipp, had a particularly good game and there is a feeling that, even though manager Brian Cody tends to select on training-ground form, the performance of all of Kilkenny's six starting forwards last time out means they are unlikely to be displaced.