As part of a PA Roundtable ahead of the All Ireland Hurling Final between Galway and Limerick, we spoke to Waterford star Austin Gleeson about his predictions for the titanic tussle.
You can read the full roundtable with Austin Gleeson, Liam Rushe, John McGrath and Conor McDonald here.
1. Who will be Galway’s key man and why?
Austin Gleeson: I can’t think of just one player. I think Galway’s midfield line is their key to winning this weekend because Darragh O’Donovan and Cian Lynch are the link between both backs and forwards and the Limerick half-back line always look for those two to set up attacks by giving 20 yard balls and then quickly moved on from those two.
If David Burke and Johnny Coen stop those two getting good ball in, it will be a massive factor for Galway.
2. Who will be Limerick’s key man and why?
AG: Declan Hannon. He likes to sit in and try to control his defence which he has done superbly so far this year but Joe Canning is firing in recent weeks so Hannon needs to be tight to him and take him down.
Both players are the big leaders in both camps so I expect that to be a super battle if they go toe-to-toe.
3. Galway’s experience v Limerick youth, how much of a factor will it be?
AG: I don’t think it will be a factor at all. That Limerick team, 75 percent of them have been there in college and underage so they will not fear the Galway team.
Obviously, Galway, having won last year and been there in previous years, will have the practice of the build up. Limerick need to get that out of their minds, banquets, suiting up, new gear, etc., everyone will want a piece of them, they need to focus and go into Croke Park as if it’s just another game.
4. Million dollar question, who will lift the Liam McCarthy?
AG: I think Galway will start extremely well as they always do and Limerick will claw themselves back into it but I think Galway will just hold out as they have done a few times this year by two or three points.
5. Predictions for Hurler of the Year and Young Hurler of the Year?
AG: Padraic Mannion (Galway) for Hurler of The Year, 110 percent. He has been incredible for Galway all year and has been the driving force for them when they really need a leader.
Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork) for Young Hurler of the Year. He has been consistently outstanding since he burst onto the scene in both U21 and senior level. In every game, he totally empties himself and leaves absolutely everything on the field.
6. New hurling format, success or not?
When it came out first I was worried if players would be able to withstand the demand put on them. How wrong was I!
The new format has been an absolute joy to watch. Look at some of the games we have had this year. Three or four from this season could easily go into the top ten games of the past decade. For a year where the GAA have been questioned on some of their decisions, this is the decision that not one person can argue with.
It has been a mesmerizing summer of hurling and hopefully, Sunday can top it all off with a classic between two strong, physical and fit teams. Best of luck to both sets of players involved.