Where The All-Ireland Hurling Final Will Be Decided
The Pope might be headed for Croker at the end of the month, but this weekend sees Galway and Limerick making the pilgrimage to GAA HQ to battle it out in the All-Ireland hurling final. The Tribesmen are the reigning champions, while the Shannonsiders return to the decider for the first time in more than a decade.
Live on RTÉ 2 (Virgin TV 102) and Sky Sports, it’s sure to live up to the long-standing reputation as one of the seminal dates in the Irish sporting calendar – and we’ve had a go at identifying the areas where the match will be won and lost…
Even someone who’s never watched a game of hurling in their life could spot one thing about this Galway panel; they’re big boys! From Daithi Burke at the back to Jason Flynn up front, their sheer size and power has caused headaches for plenty of teams in the past few years. Limerick have a reputation for giving just as good as they get in the physical stakes though – the clash of the titans could prove important as the game wears on!
THE TOP THREE INCHES
Physical strength is one thing; mental strength is quite another. And while Galway have experience on their side, Limerick have left no stone unturned in getting their heads in the game, calling on sports psychologists, local rugby heroes and more to share their expertise. Few teams are better equipped to spring the upset – just ask the Corkmen who were booking hotel rooms with five minutes left in their semi-final!
THE JOE SHOW
It’s not been a banner season for the talismanic Joe Canning, but all signs point towards his form peaking at just the right time. Scorer of eight points in the semi-final replay against Clare, he’s the X-factor for this Galway side; an inspirational leader as well as a consistent scorer and inventive playmaker. Also – who doesn’t love to see him pointing those incredible sideline cuts?!
TAKE THE POINTS…
Both finalists have put on veritable masterclasses in point scoring on the way to the final, from Galway’s clinical display in the Leinster final replay against Kilkenny to Limerick’s quarter-final victory over the same opposition. If the long-range sharpshooters are on form, we might well see a battle where the green flag isn’t the be all and end all!
PLAY TO THE WHISTLE
One of the defining features of this season has been the number of extraordinary comebacks – as one wag was heard to comment recently, a nine-point advantage is a dangerous lead these days! Indeed, when these two teams clashed earlier this year Limerick enjoyed a ten-point swing to take the spoils in Salthill – and while nobody is suggesting the league result is an indicator of how this one will go, it’s a reminder that there’ll be no winner until 70 minutes have elapsed!
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