Galway hurling has reason to be positive

Work-rate and belief

Galway's Johnny Coen and manager Anthony Cunningham are all smiles after Galway’s All Ireland Senior Hurling semi-final win at Croke Park on Sunday. 		
				             Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Johnny Coen and manager Anthony Cunningham are all smiles after Galway’s All Ireland Senior Hurling semi-final win at Croke Park on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

The Galway players worked exceptionally hard all over the field last Sunday to harvest a terrific and inspiring victory. There was a real steeliness to the entire performance which was fantastic to see.

Every time Tipperary scored a goal, the Galway lads battled back to get a point or two,  keeping them in the game. After Callanan's third major, Galway hit 0-4 on the bounce.

They were real body blows from Seamus Callanan, but Galway just refused to go away. 

Part of that belief and confidence is probably down to the team having played five games prior to last Sunday.

A Galway team has never advanced to an All-Ireland final with six games played and hopefully that momentum will steel them for the challenge Kilkenny will pose.

Everyone on the team, from goalkeeper Colm Callanan up to Cathal Mannion, had a tremendous unity of purpose with everyone on the same hymn sheet. 

What had to be done, would be done, to secure the victory.

Defenders Johnny Coen and Daithí Burke were two unsung heroes - each doing his job in an understated and efficient manner. Burke never allowed Bonner Maher any time on the ball and he won some great aerial tussles. Bubbles O'Dwyer did not have a big role in the game which is a credit to Coen's close marking and tenacious play.

David Burke also produced a storming display at midfield as well as hitting two sweet points. It was great to see the St Thomas man back to top form and injury free.

Jonathan Glynn was another player who set a very good example as regards hard graft. The big Ardrahan man did not score, but he put himself about all day to hassle and harry and hook Tipperary defenders, and that kind of unselfish work is what turns games around.

Better scoring spread in the forwards

The addition of Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn in particular, and Conor Whelan up front, has taken the pressure off Joe Canning to try to score the vast bulk of Galway's scores. That is a good thing and seven different Galway players scored last Sunday.

In the drawn 2012 All-Ireland final, only four Galway players hit the target. Galway hit 2-13 that day, and Canning notched 1-9, with Niall Burke also hitting 1-2.

Last weekend Cathal Mannion continued his stunning form and hit 0-5 from play, and Flynn also raised five white flags, with four of those from play and one superb free. Ten points from those two was a massive contribution, and it really opens up Galway's attacking options. 

Teenage sensation Conor Whelan who will not turn 19  until the last day in November also chipped in with two vital points.

The addition of that trio of starting forwards is a major plus for the side and should give the Kilkenny backs plenty to mull over. Substitutes Shane Maloney and Padraig Brehony will also have gained confidence from being introduced last weekend and they will be pushing to try to get some more game time in three weeks.

All those players are young men which augurs well for the future, if they stick to doing what will make them the best hurlers they can be.

Anthony Cunningham will be hoping Cyril Donnellan and Jonathan Glynn will also raise a few flags between them on September 6 to add to their tremendous work-rate and effort.

 Realism

While there was a few moments of totally understandable euphoria after what was a really thrilling win and a sensational game of hurling, the noises from the Galway camp almost immediately were pragmatic, logical and earnest. It was after all only a semi-final.

Having been beaten in the All-Ireland final replay in 2012 and the 2015 Leinster final by Kilkenny, nobody is getting carried away.

Winning the semi-final was nice, but after 27 years without a senior All-Ireland, winning a final is what it is all about.

As team manager Anthony Cunningham pointed out after the game: "Kilkenny will be hot favourites and will deserve to be. They are a fantastic team. I am not building them up, you don't have to build these guys up. They are super hurlers. We just want to be at the level they are at. May the best team win."

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