We preview the first of many clashes between Kilkenny and Galway, this time its the Walsh Cup final with Galway looking the stronger team.
While there will be an element of shadow boxing ahead of the national hurling league the following weekend, there’s still a trophy at stake and neither side will want to lose.
For Galway, beating Kilkenny always provides a lift as they last defeated the Noresiders in the 2015 league by 0-20 to 0-18. Micheal Donoghue’s charges have four wins from four following their facile 4-37 to 0-15 win over IT Carlow in the semi-finals as Sean McInerney (2), Conor Whelan and Jason Flynn helped themselves to goals.
Six of Galway’s championship team started with Whelan and Flynn joined by John Hanbury, Johnny Coen, Joseph Cooney and the returning Adrian Tuohy, who got three points against the students. Donoghue will be without St. Thomas’ pair David Burke and Conor Cooney, plus the Ahascragh/Fohenagh brothers Padraic and Cathal Mannion as they seek their third Walsh Cup.
Brian Cody has a strong hand but only fielded four of the All-Ireland final team in their last gasp 0-15 to 0-14 win over Wexford with Joey Holden, Padraig Walsh, Paul Murphy and Conor Fogarty in action.
Alan Murphy scored 0-10 against Wexford while keeper Richie Reid produced a point blank save from Cathal Dunbar in the closing stages. And Ollie Walsh did well partnering captain Paddy Deegan in midfield.
This result will have little significance should they meet in the championship but it can lay down an early marker. But beating Kilkenny is difficult on any day, especially in Nowlan Park, and the Cats should clinch their 20th Walsh Cup on Sunday.