Galway’s victory over Kilkenny in this year’s Leinster final was the shock of the hurling year. They nearly did it again on All Ireland final day, and now, in another sell-out in Croke Park, the momentum remains with the Tribesmen.
Where once there was hope, there is now expectation. Manager Anthony Cunningham and his squad may still be underdogs to win this first All Ireland hurling final replay in 53 years, but the city and county remains right behind them.
Having drawn with Kilkenny three weeks ago, Cunningham is now masterminding a strategy to cope with an expected resurgent Cats and of course Henry Shefflin.
"Our defence was tremendous the last day and we want to do that again. Kilkenny have a star-studded forward line and we’ll want to stop them scoring," he says.
Last day out Galway had to rely on a late free from Joe Canning to earn the replay, and Cunningham says his forwards will need to play a bigger part.
"We will need a little bit extra from our forwards. We want them to get back up to the level they have shown in the Leinster final and the championship to date."
Cunningham has had three weeks to prime his squad, saying the drawn game provided Galway with a huge learning curve.
“It's the team that takes on the most learning points and we feel that we're advancing most.
Galway, he said, have a great panel of 33 players.
“ They're willing to learn and they'll kick on. I'm so confident of that."