Something from the weekend: Our GAA team’s view from the pressbox

Seán Moran, Gavin Cummiskey and Ian O’Riordan with the main talking points

Anthony Cunningham’s Galway produced a loose performance as they lost to Brian Cody’s Kilkenny at Croke Park on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

Anthony Cunningham’s Galway produced a loose performance as they lost to Brian Cody’s Kilkenny at Croke Park on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

 

Loose Galway lack shock and awe

Galway hurlers have done better than most against Kilkenny in the Brian Cody era (three wins, equalled only by Cork) but the structure of the county’s most famous victories has tended to be based on shock-and-awe openings, setting a fiery pace from the start.

Sunday’s edgy score swapping during most of the first half wasn’t in that tradition and Galway’s big move on the scoreboard was required to reduce a growing deficit before half-time.

Ten years ago Galway led Kilkenny by just a score at the break but had scored 2-11 - six points more than at the weekend - and in the 2012 Leinster final they had racked up 2-12 at the same stage but restricted their outgoings to 0-4.

One of the most noticeable things about Galway in the first half was the looseness in their play, poor touch and inaccurate use of the ball. As opposed to those successful contests when they were clearly in the zone from the throw-in the county struggled to build attacking rhythm.

When it came to unforced errors in possession - not attempts for scores nor contesting on re-starts - Galway were turned over twice as often as the champions (20:10), which made a barnstorming first 35 minutes unlikely.

It made you wonder what had happened to the slick build-up work of their previous two matches but then playing Kilkenny is clearly more challenging than taking on Laois and Dublin.

As Sartre said about an alien code, ‘everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team’. SM

The rich get richer, the poor’s first touch never really improves.

Wildly contrasting spectacles from vastly different press facilities over the weekend - first stop O’Moore Park on Saturday night as Dublin ended the Laois hurling revival before Kilkenny’s relentless magnificence hurled the life out of Galway in Croke Park on Sunday.

Second Captains

“Is the objective for the next 40 years to have an All-Ireland championship where only three counties can win it?” asked Laois manager Séamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett. “Because we’ve had that for the last 40 years.

“If that’s what they want, let them stand up and be honest and say it. And we’ll all go away and do something else. But if the vision is to support people like us in what we’re doing, let them stand back and say what has worked before isn’t working and let’s do something different.”

Some essential editing to the Dublin versus Laois report removed Plunkett’s crucial response to himself: “Let’s go into these counties and talk to them and decide what we can do. It hasn’t happened and I’ve no confidence that it will in the near future to be honest with you.”

Plunkett has internal problems to contend with as well. He felt obliged to resign in May but returned in June. The wonder is whether he will be overseeing the Laois hurling panel that has the opportunity to do “something absolutely brilliant” this winter.

“You also need to go away and look at how the team is going to improve and w hat you can give to that. So those decisions will be made down the line.”

So, Laois look to their clubs again - in both football and hurling - as Dublin press on to face Limerick this Saturday, which is the game they probably wanted.

Ger Cunningham, the man who coached Cork to the 2013 All-Ireland final, abandoned the Liam Rushe and Conal Keaney experiments with the former returned to centre back, the latter hitting 1-3 from full forward. Cuala’s under-21 star Cian O’Callaghan must continue at fullback as Peter Kelly won’t be fit.

They could also do with Danny Sutcliffe playing to his full potential.

It’s an alien concept for a Kilkenny hurler not to reach his absolute limit on these days. Mainly because another 40 capable greyhounds are desperate to pull on the black and amber jersey. Mick Fennelly’s illness and Richie Power’s injury were barely referenced as others stepped up to erase Joe Canning’s wonder goal and Jason Flynn’s strike early in the second half.

Flynn was causing Jackie Tyrrell some trouble so Brian Cody replaced the four time All Star with Shane Prendergast. Don’t know Prendergast? Nobody knew Jackie in 2003.

Afterwards Anthony Cunningham told Cody he’d see him in September.

He’ll be watching the All-Ireland final between Kilkenny and Tipperary so. Anyone remember what Cheddar was saying? Something about 40 years... GC

Cork come hurtling out of the blocks

By sprinting standards it may have been slightly wind-assisted, but the Cork hurlers certainly exploded out of the blocks on Saturday - on the B of the Bang. Wexford, in contrast, were left in the blocks, which meant as a game it was soon clear there was only going to be one winner.

With 24 scores, all but 0-5 from play, seven different scorers, including a brilliant 1-5 from Conor Lehane, Cork also left behind the doubts about their own confidence, after surrendering their Munster title. With a 14-point advantage by half-time they could afford to back off, which intended or not, they did. But going 20 minutes of the second half without a score won’t get them another day out, like it did this time.

Now, and with Clare suddenly presented before them this weekend, comes the question of whether they have even more to offer. Defensively, they didn’t give Wexford even a sniff of a goal, Mark Ellis boldly holding the fort at centre back, with Brian and Cormac Murphy looking perfectly tuned to their task. But the worry is Wexford didn’t actually present them with enough of a threat to measure the full aptitude of that defence.

Lehane revelled in his positioning closer to goal, and Seamus Harnedy will be sharper again as he recovers from his hamstring problem. Patrick Horgan is still a model of consistency, and there’s no denying Cork have the skilful attack needed to get themselves back in Croke Park. Still, that 20-minute lapse still hangs over the overall performance, and while the end result was convincing, not as convincing as perhaps it should or needed to be. IO

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