Battle-hardened Dublin have the momentum to triumph over Galway
But there is also a chance that Galway are timing their run to perfection
Dublin’s Paul Ryan will have to be in good form with his free-taking. Photograph: Inpho
Last year I remember how little a chance I gave Galway in the Leinster final against Kilkenny. They had arrived along their usual meandering pathway, occasionally rising up with some beautiful hurling interspersed by some horrors shows, conceding seven goals against Westmeath and Offaly.
Nobody knows with any certainty what Galway are going to bring to Croke Park tomorrow but you have to believe that their Laois performance in the semi-final was the aberration this time around.
There must be method in Anthony Cunningham’s approach. I presume they looked at the fixture list and decided to hold their first high note on July 7th. Albeit against Kilkenny.
That it’s Dublin shouldn’t matter. That we haven’t seen much spark out of them yet shouldn’t matter either. We saw nothing to warn us of last year’s stunning dismantling of Kilkenny when they landed a marvellous 1-6 in the opening 18 minutes.
I’m putting very little stock in the league semi-final defeat to Kilkenny. They started well and the injury to Fergal Moore took the wind out of their sails.
My impression was that they weren’t overly bothered with the league but they were better than last year.
I think they need to play Joe Canning at full forward. Maybe shift him out to centre forward for a while but he needs to be inside.
That said, they still seem over-reliant on him.
The open space of Croke Park does bring the best out of them.
If the game goes all helter skelter I think Conal Keaney and Danny Sutcliffe will struggle to get through the work load they have produced down in Portlaoise, simply because of the extra ground they will need to cover.
But I give Dublin a real chance. Five games in five weeks brings them to this moment with genuine momentum and more importantly a purpose about their hurling.
The 20 point range is an established mark of theirs so Galway goals would see them regain them the title.
Yet again, the opening exchanges will tell us everything. Like Kilkenny, Galway can’t be allowed cut loose. If Dublin start well and hang on in through an inevitable trough, the spirit they have clearly built up in the panel can end that 52-year wait.
But Galway could have a day that blows them away. That could happen. They could be timing their run but going on form in 2013, a dangerous thing with Galway hurlers, I’m edging towards Dublin.