The 2018 Leinster hurling championship final on July 1 in Croke Park will see Galway face their old nemesis Kilkenny in what promises to be an intriguing final.
At the same venue last year, and at the same stage of the competition, Galway beat Wexford by 0-29 to 1-17 to win the provincial title. Joe Canning, Conor Cooney and Joseph Cooney scored 0-23 between them, and Micheál Donoghue and his squad will be hoping for a similar result and win in three weeks' time.
Kilkenny qualifed for the final by virtue of a sizzling second-half performance last weekend that saw them come from behind to pip Wexford by a point and gain the chance to have another pop at Galway, having been well beaten by 11 points in the group stages at Pearse Stadium (1-22 to 2-11 ).
And Galway will know they need to up their game having allowed Dublin turn a seven-point half-time deficit into a one-point lead with six minutes left on the clock, before Galway won by 26 to 2-19 last weekend.
Both Dublin goals were as a result of sloppy enough Galway defending, and that will need to be sharpened for the bigger challenges that lie ahead.
To be fair, the home side were without talisman Joe Canning, Johnny Coen, Adrian Tuohey, and Johnny Glynn, and they still had leaders to step up when the need was greatest. Team captain David Burke and Jason Flynn produced late points to ease the home supporters' worries. Pádriac Mannion had a super game at wing-back and hit three super points in a polished display.
Galway will go into the Leinster final on the back of four victories over Offaly, Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin, and it was good to see they had the capacity to come back from the brink of a defeat when it looked likely that they might be pipped by Pat Gilroy’s team.
Team manager Micheál Donoghue was pleased with his side’s performance ahead of a rematch with Brian Cody’s outfit on the first Sunday in July.
“We are quite content," he says. "When the Dublin goals came, it gave them a huge lift. We were six or seven up and the goals cut that down to the minimum.
“We had to work hard for the win. When they got the goals their tails were up. But testament to our boys, they worked hard and stayed in the game when the chances came.”
Looking ahead, Donoghue is mindful that Brian Cody will be keen to stop Galway’s dominance in Leinster, if at all possible.
“We have huge respect for Kilkenny. They are going to bring something different than they had in Galway a couple of weeks ago. We know that.
"They will be pleased with their win over Wexford too, and they will take belief from how they played. We know we will face a different challenge in the final, but it is one we are looking forward to. It is where we want to be.
“We take confidence from the four wins we have had, and now we will just get back to the training pitch and look forward to the final.”
G alway : J Skehill, P Killeen, Daithí Burke, A Harte, P Mannion (0-3 ), G McInerney, J Hanbury; S Loftus (0-1 ), David Burke (Cpt ) (0-2 ), J Cooney (0-3 ), C Mannion (0-1 ), N Burke, C Whelan (0-3 ), C Cooney (0-2 ), J Flynn (0-11, 9fs ). Subs: E Burke for Loftus (43 ), S Cooney for Killeen (50 ), D Glennon for C Cooney (68 ), P Brehony for J Cooney (73 ).