Tribe are on a quest to avoid history lesson from Rebels
As ever, Cork fully believe in their ability to win while Galway have always had that capacity to miss-fire unexpectedly, writes NICKY ENGLISH
IF YOU take the form of the two teams as your basis it’s very straightforward but I’d be wary of Galway at 9 to 4 on. You have to ask how reliable they are to repeat their Leinster final performance and look at how many players are still there from last year’s defeat by Waterford.
The defeat of Kilkenny was all the same an extra-special performance and something out-of-the-ordinary. Repeat that and they win; no doubts but can they?
I would also look at Galway in the league: the campaign was ordinary at best but it provided plenty of excuses in the numbers of young players being brought through. And in the middle of that when they were going poorly enough they went to play a Cork team with their tails up and turned them over in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
I saw Galway playing in the Walsh Cup against UCD on an awful day in January.
They had a lot of the fellas who are playing tomorrow and although the match itself was forgettable I do remember the way they all stayed put and trained hard afterwards. You could see that there was a definite unity about them.
Maybe there is something different about them this year. For a start there’s fitness and you can take Joe Canning’s level as a barometer of the team. Anthony Cunningham has also brought in new players from the under-21 side, like Niall Burke and Niall Donoghue. Add that in with the stronger team ethic and there are grounds for believing that this is for real.
We need reassurance about that because we’ve seen Galway pull out big once-off performances before. Again they came in under the radar against Kilkenny and it was noticeable that Cunningham addressed the obvious question right away – the need to follow through.
He said that they had been here before as a county and hadn’t been able to deliver consistently.
Factor in that Kilkenny absolutely failed to compete for most of the first half and then imagine you knew nothing about the teams at the start of the second half, you’d have felt Galway were ordinary enough and very nervous with just a few minutes to go despite being nine points up.
I feel they’re more likely to start as they finished against Kilkenny rather than how they played at the start of the Leinster final, which means that they’ll have to hold their nerve.
The success was built on the opening minutes when Galway came to the ball very hard in the half-back line and played the third man in midfield. This means the opposition have a choice in that they can bring out a player themselves to counter the switch. But Kilkenny didn’t react at all and looked totally perplexed.
Galway’s half backs dominated the Kilkenny half forwards, which is one of the hardest lines in the game to dominate. Certainly Cork’s line wouldn’t compare if you were to add up All Stars.