Odds are stacked against Galway pulling off shockJuly 5, 2012 - 7:00am
GALWAY look to claim their first Leinster senior hurling championship title on Sunday. Reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny seek their 69th . . . and their eighth provincial crown in-a -row. That should keep things real heading to Croke Park for the 4pm throw-in.
Unlike other occasions when these two sides met, when flights of fancy were as frequent as Irish raindrops, there is a sense of realism among all concerned with the maroon and white regarding just where Galway hurling is at presently. Consequently, the primary objective for the Tribesmen on Sunday will be to deliver a performance of note. Anything after that will be a bonus.
Of course, the management and players themselves will believe they can cause an upset – as they should – but this must be tempered with the stark fact they are playing a team at the height of their powers, a side that is chasing their ninth All-Ireland title in 12 years and the county’s 33rd in all.
For this one, Liam Mellows defender David Collins will be available after a protracted period on the sideline with an ankle injury and his inclusion would represent a major boost for a Galway rearguard that has leaked no less than seven goals in their last two championship outings against opposition far inferior than Kilkenny.
Injury concerns over Cyril Donnellan (ankle) and Joe Canning (shoulder) also seem to have abated, meaning manager Anthony Cunningham and his coaches, Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert, should have a full squad to choose from when they announce their starting selection on Friday evening.
While it remains to be seen if Collins will be restored into the full-back berth – currently held by Kevin Hynes – the defensive effort will be led by corner back and captain Fergal Moore and centre-half back Tony Óg Regan.
The midfield partnership of Iarla Tannian and Andy Smith has been working well in recent games and will most likely be retained while, up front, the management will be loathe to break up a cohesive attacking unit that has yielded an impressive 10-42 in their two fixtures to date.
To the fore with accumulative totals have been David Burke (3-2), Niall Burke (0-9, 0-8 placed balls), Damien Hayes (1-5), Conor Cooney (2-2) and Cyril Donnellan (1-4) while Joe Canning made his return from injury to hit 0-11 (0-2 from play) against Offaly.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.