Galway hope the centre will hold in final fight against Limerick

Tribesmen captain David Burke believes midfield battle will be key to outcome

Galway captain David Burke. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Galway captain David Burke. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Galway captain David Burke knows that a win in their midfield battle with Limerick will go a long way to ultimate victory in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.

Burke (28) was man of the match as Galway ended a 29-year wait for Liam MacCarthy in 2017, but he has called on his midfield partner Johnny Coen to help him trump the Treaty midfield duo this weekend.

In Cian Lynch and Darragh O’Donovan, Limerick have two of the form midfielders in the game, while the talented William O’Donoghue sits in reserve, and Burke wants to build victory on a strong show round the middle.

“Cian Lynch is a big playmaker for them, and any good plays they’ve had all year, he’s been in the centre of it. And Darragh O’Donovan has been working really hard,” said Burke, who will hope to emulate Conor Hayes as a double-winning captain from Galway.

“I suppose, like any game, I’d be always telling Johnny, if we win midfield at all we’ve a great chance of winning the game. And if you’re getting on a lot of ball there, you’re setting up a lot of attacks as opposed to them.

“So it’s simple when you look at it like that. Obviously they’ve been playing pretty well and a lot of the comeback they got the last day was down to them winning a lot of dirty ball near the end. They’re good hurlers and I think the way they’re playing, they’re playing a deep half-forward line, the half-back line sitting – it’s suiting the two lads they have there and Cian Lynch can attack from deep positions. It’s something that we’ll have to look at.”

Limerick’s hunger

This time least year it was Galway’s chore to deal with talk of ending a long wait for All-Ireland glory since 1988, and without a successful championship season since 1973, Limerick’s wait is much longer and their hunger is greater that Galway’s was 12 months ago.

Burke thinks it can be a tough challenge to manage, to avoid discussions with supporters, family and friends.

“It’s such a long time, it’s hard to know what’s the best way to do it,” said the Galway skipper.

“The worst thing was just dealing with people you’d meet. Talking to them at work, or your own family, and the expectation that was probably on them and being so excited and hoping that it was done.

“You kind of have to deal with it in a certain way, and really just focus on the game in hand. I know it’s a cliche but that is the only way around it, and the rest is a sideshow for them.

Limerick’s Cian Lynch. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Limerick’s Cian Lynch. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

“Obviously afterwards you enjoy it with everyone, but beforehand you have to have just a one mind with the rest of the team that ‘Look, this is my job, I’ve to go out and execute it and get it done.

“There’s always pressure definitely on every game, and we’re the worst, ourselves, for putting pressure on ourselves going into any game. Players just want to get better, naturally, but look, Galway people are still hungry for more success and this team is hungry for more as well. That’s the way we’ll be approaching it: another game, and another game that we really want to win.”

Brawn and skill

This Galway team have built their success on merging a sharp physical edge with some impressive hurling skills and the St Thomas man sees similar traits in John Kiely’s side.

When the teams last met, Galway were swamped as a rabid Limerick outfought them in Salthill, and the Galway skipper is wary.

Burke said: “Yeah, they’re big hurlers – but the few big hurlers they have are very good hurlers as well. They’re great stickmen, very skilful.

“That was probably a big thing [for them] coming down to beating Cork as well, that they had the belief that they’d big men, able to score, and when they brought these lads off the bench, they were able to finish the job.

“So, I think that has given them massive confidence, and when you’ve a team like that, with confidence, they’re going to be hard to beat.

“Obviously we watched all the games in Munster and played them earlier on in the year. Look, they’re a very good team; very good panel, very good squad, and play a lovely brand of hurling as well.

“A real hard-working team from what I see, and really playing for each other – you can see there’s a real team ethic in their play. Every lad chips in and does their bit. Look, they’ll be a formidable outfit to play against us.

“But it’s the next challenge for us and hopefully we can get the job done.”

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