Galway can be backed at 3/1 with most bookmakers to win the All-Ireland hurling final on Sept 9th
Let’s examine some of the reasons why they are such big outsiders.
In their semi-final against Cork the men from the west struggled for long periods and only pulled away in the last ten minutes. Conversely Kilkenny enjoyed an emphatic semi-final win over an experienced Tipperary side and when presented with goal chances in the second half they converted in typically ruthless fashion.
Big game experience
This Kilkenny team has been on the road for a long time and many of their players have played in several All Irelands. This is the seventh year in succession where the majority of their line-up has appeared in the penultimate game. Galway have a youthful side with seven players under the age of 23. They have three survivors from the 2005 final but many of their starting fifteen will be playing in their first senior final on Sunday week.
Record in Finals
Historically Galway’s record in finals is extremely poor, they lost their most recent finals in 2001 and 2005. On the other hand Kilkenny have a very high success rate, this year’s final is their seventh in succession and they have only lost one of those, against Tipperary in 2010.
Galway over reliant on Joe Canning
Canning has been in tremendous form so far this year and has posted some massive totals. In their semi-final against Cork he accounted for half of his team’s total of 22 points. Kilkenny have a more balanced spread of scorers up front with Henry Shefflin, Eoin Larkin, TJ Reid and Aidan Fogarty sharing the scoring burden in recent outings.
Anthony Cunningham’s team produced the shock of the decade in this year’s Leinster decider defeating Kilkenny by ten points. Their tactics of crowding the middle third and running at the Kilkenny defence reaped rich dividends and the game was effectively over at half-time. The game plan will have to be adjusted and Kilkenny will be on their guard this time around. Defeating such a great side once is a great achievement, to do it twice in the same season will be a mammoth task.