Hurlers will have to be at their best to lower the Banner

Galway's Jonathan Glynn and Clare's Patrick O'Connor in action from the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Croke Park, Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Jonathan Glynn and Clare's Patrick O'Connor in action from the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Croke Park, Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Following on from last weekend's epic 1-30 to 1-30 draw with Clare after extra time at Croke Park, the Galway hurlers will have to find the energy and drive to do it all again this Sunday, when they face the Banner men in the All-Ireland semi-final replay at Semple Stadium (Thurles ) at 2pm.

Galway management and fans will also be sweating on news of injuries to Joe Canning and centre-back and All-Star Gearóid McInerney who were both withdrawn last weekend due to knee and calf muscle injuries respectively.

The word at this juncture is that Canning should be available to take his place at centre-forward, however McInerney may require a few weeks to get back to match fitness. If McInerney is unavailable to play, then Micheál Donoghue would probably look to the likes of Paul Killeen or Sean Loftus to replace him in the defence.

Galway led by nine

Galway started in a whirlwind last Saturday and led by 1-07 to 0-1 after the first quarter with some people in the ground starting to think that last year's champions were going to romp to another final.

They had Clare goalkeeper Donal Tuohy in all sorts of trouble at that stage and his puck-outs were being superbly targeted by the Galway players. However, Clare's joint management team of Donal Moloney and Gerry O' Connor made a few tactical adjustments and the move of Colm Galvin to a sweeper role energised their challenge and they fought back from 1-07 to 0-1 - to be only trail by four at the break, 1-10 to 0-9.

Wing-forward Peter Duggan who shot 0-14 (11fs ) and Tony Kelly really ramped up their performances and they outscored Galway by 0-8 to 0-3 in the last fifteen minutes of the first half.

Galway were culpable in letting Clare get a real foothold in the game after leading by nine points and they missed a goal chance or two and hit 12 wides in that first half, which gave a lot of belief to the 2013 All-Ireland champions.

Galway ended extra time with 22 wides in total and they will know that they will have to be more clinical up front this Sunday if they are going to be heading to Croke Park on August 19 to take on Limerick.

Similar to Cork and Limerick in another classic, in what was a stunning weekend for hurling - the levels of physicality, workrate, skill and intensity were immense in the Clare and Galway draw, and it is probably asking too much to expect such a super game again this weekend. That said, the prize at stake for the victors on Sunday afternoon is huge and both teams will be going hammer and tongs to try and produce a performance that will see them in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.

Calling a winner is impossible

Calling a winner in the replay is practically impossible, especially as there is no definite news on the Galway injury front. Clare too, have lots of hard calls to make as regards their starting 15 as they got huge contributions from their subs with David Fitzgerald, Ian Galvin, goal-scorer Aron Shanagher and Jason McCarthy all catching the eye.

No side deserved to lose last weekend and the fact that Semple Stadium is sold out this weekend tells us about how the supporters feel as regards going back for more. It was a superb advertisement for hurling and all those heading down the road this Sunday will be looking for more of the same.

Team manager Micheál Donoghue praised his team after the draw and pointed out that his players had shown unbelievable character to keep going to wire. "These are a massive bunch and they are really committed to the cause and want to be as successful as they can," he said. "They've massive experience and they'll draw on that this week and be ready to go again on Sunday."


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