Rebels have more scope for improvement – Tyrrell
WHEN they looked ahead to the All-Ireland final replay last season, Kilkenny and Galway had little to go on.
Theirs was the first drawn hurling final since 1959, and both teams were forced to return to the well three weeks after their season was supposed to have peaked.
It was novel territory and the Cats handled it better, coming out on top with a brilliant performance on the last Sunday in September to claim back-to-back Liam MacCarthy Cups.
Twelve months on, their methods will be closely scrutinised by Clare and Cork as they follow their path into a replay after Sunday's draw as the showpiece is replayed for the second successive year.
"It's a bit of a shock for a day or two, you're walking around and you're nearly numb, you don't really know," Kilkenny defender Jackie Tyrrell recalled.
"What I found hardest was to recover emotionally from it. Physically, a couple of days and you're grand, but it was nearly the Thursday of the week before you were getting your head around it to go again, that this All-Ireland is still here for the winning.
"It's so psychological, you're building up to it for weeks and weeks and then it's just over and you don't know where to go really.
"It can drain you for a few days. You get caught up in it. You have to get over that, clear the head for the replay and get on with it.
"There's a lot of young lads out there and it will test them. That's up to Davy Fitz and Jimmy Barry to work on and do whatever they have to do to get them right."
Having come out on the wrong end of that result after dominating the drawn game and beaten Kilkenny in Leinster, Galway selector Mattie Kenny admits that the Tribesmen might do things differently if faced with the same situation again.
"From our own experience last year, looking back, in the replay Galway didn't arrive with the same level of sharpness and enthusiasm," he said.
"It turned out to be a long year and there were things we could have done. You have to arrive at Croke Park as sharp as you can be.
"This week now they will probably do a bit of recovery and both management teams will look at giving the lads a bit of time off. It is difficult to keep at the pitch, you have to take them down for two days and then build it up. It's a challenge."
Kenny believes that Kilkenny were getting better and better as the initial final went on and that the champions came into their own in the replay; Tyrrell recalled how Brian Cody eased down the training ahead of their second meeting.
"It was like a semi-final and you were in to a final again," he said. "The week of it, you're not doing a whole lot, it's just about getting the body right.
"Coming into this weekend, you start to do a bit of training and look at where you need to improve.
"We didn't do a whole lot of training between the two finals last year. It was more about looking at the game and where we fell down and where we could improve."
Having watched the final from the stands last weekend, Tyrrell reckons Cork have more scope to get better on Saturday fortnight.
"The thing I would look at is who can improve the most. I thought Clare were excellent at the weekend and they haven't a whole lot more to improve on, although they gave away a few soft goals," he said.
"I think if Cork can get a few more forwards going well and stepping up to the plate, they have the more obvious scope to improve – and I think they will improve."