Hurling fever sets in as seniors target first All-Ireland final in seven years
Galway senior hurler Joe Canning and Galway senior hurling captain Fergal Moore receive support from young Galway hurling fans (L to R) Andrew Canning, Lily Lynch and Kayleigh Slevin as they get ready for their weekend clash against Cork. Photo: David Ruffles
By Declan Varley
Hurling fever is at a zenith in the city and county this week as the senior hurlers get ready for Sunday’s showdown with Cork which could see them advance to an All-Ireland senior final for the first time in seven years.
Thousands of fans are expected to travel to the capital on Sunday for the showdown with the Leesiders at Croke Park and there is an increased confidence that the glory days of Galway hurling may be on the way back.
Maroon flags and banners are in abundance throughout the city and county. The manner in which Galway defeated Kilkenny in the Leinster final has reinvigorated hurling fever and there is a strong belief among supporters that Anthony Cunningham’s team now possess the mental and physical strength to win the county’s first All-Ireland hurling title in almost a quarter of a century.
Cunningham’s men are 2/1 on in the bookies to face either Kilkenny or Tipperary in September. However, there will be no over-confidence or lack of readiness for the battle in the Galway camp as they know that in Cork they face wily and experienced opponents, with a top class manager in Jimmy Barry Murphy back in situ. Indeed, the last time that Galway were in the All-Ireland final in 2005, their opponents were Cork, and the Rebels won by five points on a score-line of 1-21 to 1-16.
Galway defeated Cork easily enough in last year’s phase three qualifier game in the Gaelic Grounds on a score-line of 2-23 to 1-14, but a lot has changed since then and both teams are radically different with two new management teams in charge.
However, the team will not be looking back on such history when they take the field on Sunday. Team selector Mattie Kenny has said that if the team focus on individual aspects that make up a performance, the result will take care of itself.
“We will just be
pushing the need for a
high quality performance. Performance, performance, performance – that is where it is at.
“If our work rate, intensity, tackling, blocking and overall play, is to the level we want and need, the result will be the one we want.”
Team sponsor Supermac’s MD Pat McDonagh has asked Galway supporters to get behind the team by travelling to the semi-final or by donning the county colours. He is also to give away a pair of tickets to some lucky customers at every single Supermacs outlet in the county
“With Galway now at such a crucial stage of the hurling championship it is imperative that hurling fans get behind the team and support them as much as possible. It’s been seven years since Galway has reached this stage.
“We’re now here due to hard work and commitment on behalf of the players and management but also that of the true Galway hurling supporters. Being at this point is one of the highlights of Supermac’s sponsorship of Galway hurling over the last 21 years. Supermac’s wants to give Galway hurling supporters the opportunity to experience the excitement of the semi-final in Croke Park.”