Intriguing key battles to watch on Sunday

Galway's half forwards v Kilkenny's half backs

When Kilkenny got on a run in the third quarter the last day, they were driven on by the brilliance of Brian Hogan and Tommy Walsh. Hogan plucked two or three in a row out of the air and you almost feel the intake of breath and anxiety in the Galway crowd in the Hogan Stand.

The Kilkenny half back line is the rock on which many teams have perished and Galway cannot allow them dominate the game and James Skehill's puck-outs. Young Niall Burke at centre-forward did produce a few superb fetches in the first half, but he faded in that department in the second and Galway have to be careful not to keep driving high ball into Hogan, Walsh and Tyrrell if they are starting to dominate.

Skehill did find Cyril Donnellan with an astute puck-out that led to Burke's goal and Galway need to try to do more of that. Likewise, they will need David Burke, Cyril Donnellan and Damien Hayes to really take on the Kilkenny half-backs as they did in the Leinster final.

Hopefully Donnellan will have a greater influence next Sunday as he will have three weeks extra training and preparation under his belt after his arm injury.

If he can get at Tommy Walsh, take him on physically and run at him and beat him, it would be a shuddering blow to the Kilkenny rearguard. Walsh is the heartbeat of the Kilkenny defence, but if he can be dismantled as he was in the Leinster final, it would be a massive positive for Galway's chances.

Regardless of who is selected in the half-forward line for the Tribesmen, they need to tear into the Kilkenny half-backs, run at them and not let them dominate the aerial exchanges.

Niall Burke and Joe Canning hit 2-11 the last day between them and the other two points came from Niall Donoghue and Andy Smith. That is not a good enough spread of scores to win an All-Ireland. If Galway are to win this Sunday, they will more than likely need a few scores from their wing-forwards.


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