Galway hurling on the rise but past experience not encouraging

Pressure on Anthony Cunningham's side not just to perform but to satisfy a hunger for a win

Galway’s Cathal Mannion. “People are saying ‘he scored five points against Cork; he scored five more the last day against Tipperary. How is he doing that’?” Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

Galway’s Cathal Mannion. “People are saying ‘he scored five points against Cork; he scored five more the last day against Tipperary. How is he doing that’?” Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

 

It may have slipped past the radar but Galway will be present for both minor and senior All-Ireland hurling finals on Sunday.

It’s only the seventh time it has happened and precedent is not encouraging.

Not alone has the county never done the double in September but of the 12 previous finalists only the minors of 10 years ago actually won an All-Ireland on the same day the seniors lost to Cork.

Jeffrey Lynskey, this year’s minor manager and the Ireland international rules hurling-shinty coach, is too busy to fret about the past – outside of his job as a history teacher.

“You enjoy these three weeks. It doesn’t happen often for a county, and you try and absorb the atmosphere as much as you can, but you have to remain focussed as well.

“There’s a lot of demands on you regarding tickets and linking up with the county to organise a media day, so all that stuff is out of the way.”

Divided in two

Second Captains

“I’m in Headford. It’s a predominantly football area; nobody knows me out there so there’s no talk of hurling which is great to switch off! But I’m back to school tomorrow and the staff will be all talk.”

Galway’s first minor success did not come until after the county had won its first senior All-Ireland of the modern era in 1980.

It came three years later and coincidentally the captain was current senior manager Anthony Cunningham.

This year’s minors reached the final after a thrilling replay victory over defending champions Kilkenny and will take on Tipperary on Sunday.

One former Galway minor All-Ireland winner with a good knowledge of the senior finalists is Dublin corner-back Niall Corcoran, who has been playing for the county for eight seasons but won the medal with his native county 15 years ago.

He has had some great days in the blue jersey, winning a national league medal four years ago and a Leinster title in 2013, beating Galway in the provincial final and notably along the way defeating Kilkenny for the first time since the 1940s.

Corcoran gives Galway a good chance against the formidable champions.

“The one asset Galway have is they have forwards now. If you look at Cathal Mannion the last day, people are saying ‘he scored five points against Cork; he scored five more the last day against Tipperary. How is he doing that?’

“It’s his movement across the pitch. I think he was on Kieran Bergin and it’s very hard as a wing-back to hold your position when you’re marking someone like Cathal Mannion or Jason Flynn with the way those guys move. I think that’ll be the key for the Galway forwards to bring those Kilkenny backs around the pitch.

“They won’t want that. I think if any team can do it Galway can.

“Also they’re going to have to find a good full-back for TJ Reid. I think if I was the manager of Galway I’d be putting back Daithí Burke and getting young Mannion to man-mark Richie Hogan. I think Daithí Burke did a phenomenal job the last day on Bonner Maher.

Play the man

“I think a performance from Galway won’t be good enough Sunday – they’ll have to win it to satisfy the hunger.”

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