Kilkenny weren’t participating in today’s Leinster hurling final. That said, there certainly were shades of Kilkenny about this Galway side as they blew away Wexford. After today, if we didn’t already know, this is certainly Micheal Donoghue’s side’s to lose.
A lacklustre first half saw the Tribesmen go through the motions. Seemingly happy to just trot along with Wexford, it turns out Galway had yet to leave second gear. This being Galway, of course, there were doubts that their past inconsistencies were rearing their ugly head once more.
What we witnessed in the second 35 minutes, however, could be the most solid evidence that Galway are finally ready to capture Liam McCarthy.
In their pomp, Kilkenny had an ability to blow teams away by raising their game after the break. This is exactly what we saw today from Galway. Led from the front by both Cooneys, the Westerners demoralised the large Wexford support with a never-ending series of second half white flags.
After Diarmuid O’Keeffe netted and Galway’s lead was narrowed to four, no panic buttons were pressed. The Connacht natives continued with the game-plan, and in no time had retrieved their comfortable lead.
With both Leinster and League titles in the bag, a semi-final awaits them. The rest will now have to battle it out to gain one of the other 3 spots.
In Munster, Cork have gained a similar momentum to Wexford, while Clare still have a number of questions to answer. Either side could yet challenge Galway strongly, perhaps the Rebels have stood out slightly more with two impressive victories.
The Tribesmen will hardly fear Wexford again, while no side seemed particularly impressive in the first round of the qualifiers. The one issue lying in front of Galway now however, are these sides abilities to garner momentum. The Tribesmen meanwhile will be left to deal with the dreaded provincial winner’s break.
Tipperary were unimpressive, to say the least. However, the talent is their side is undeniable, should they re-group with a big victory in their next qualifier, they could pose issues.
Both Waterford and Kilkenny have seemed sluggish in 2017. The Déise have never lost to Galway in the championship, however, while Kilkenny most certainly won’t fear the Leinster champions. Still, with all of this said, it does appear as though the men from the west are that step ahead of the rest of the competition.
Can Liam McCarthy be brought west for the first time in 29 years? We don’t know, but it is highly likely.