The Galway hurlers and especially the Galway defence will face the “acid test” this Sunday when they face Kilkenny in the Leinster final at Croke Park (4pm ).
Galway have qualified for the 2012 Leinster final on the back of their two victories over Westmeath (5-19 to 4-12 ), and Offaly (5-23 to 3-15 ), but they will face a massive step up in class and quality when they face the All-Ireland champions this weekend.
The bookies definitely don’t hold out much hope for a Galway victory, with the Tribesmen available at 5/1, and Brian Cody’s charges at a prohibitive 1/6.
For those punters who are like a punt on the handicap, Galway are 10/11 at +6, with the Cats evens at -6.
One genuine advantage that Anthony Cunningham’s team do have, is that so few people expect them to have any real chance against what many have described as the best team in the history of hurling. Kilkenny on full throttle are a stupendous team, and the way they mauled Dublin in their semi-final only confirmed that fact.
Galway also took an awful hammering off Kilkenny in the league last April (3-26 to 0-10 ) down in Nowlan Park and that is why Galway are such massive underdogs.
Obviously Galway need to improve on what they have produced heretofore and that is a fact readily accepted by team manager Anthony Cunningham.
“There is room for improvement in every match you play and you have to improve day to day, and week to week. We would be happy that we have worked hard on that and that we are well prepared. So it is just down to getting a performance that we know is in the players on the day”.
“We would be happy with the team’s progress, their development and the way it is going at the moment. I think the Galway supporters feel that the team and its’ development is going in the right direction and we would hope to have a strong following in Croke Park on Sunday to support this process.”
The Galway team is expected to be announced on Friday night and there are no injuries of note prior to team selection. There are a few knocks, but Joe Canning (shoulder ), Cyril Donnellan and David Collins (both ankle ) all came through training sessions on Sunday and Tuesday.
Moore positive ahead of Sunday’s clash
The general mood is very positive in the Galway camp ahead of Sunday’s test and team captain Fergal Moore is hopeful that the side can produce a really big performance.
“Things have gone really well over the past few weeks and everyone is really looking forward to the challenge on Sunday. Kilkenny have been the benchmark for the past decade and we know that they can be really clinical if given any space and opportunity. We are under no illusion about the tough task we face, however we believe that if we play to the top of our game we will be there or there-abouts. It is a huge day for Galway hurling and it would be fantastic to win a first Leinster title for the county.”
“We are not thinking too much about Kilkenny. Instead we are focusing on our own performance. We have been scoring well in the last few games and if we can tighten up at the back and keep their goal opportunities to a minimum we will give ourselves a fighting chance. We will be giving it our best shot and we firmly believe that we can produce a big performance on Sunday. How far that takes us remains to be seen”.