There is no question about it, Galway and Tipperary have the potential to deliver. However, question marks remain for both sides and an All-Ireland title would do wonders for either side.
The Premier face the Tribesmen today in what is a repeat of last year’s semi-final at the same stage. For both sides, this is a huge game. Serious question marks hang over both these sides and although a win today would be a step in the right direction, both teams really need an All-Ireland title.
Tipperary’s failure to deliver since the 2010 All-Ireland win is something that has frustrated the Premier public. All-Ireland final defeats in 2011 and 2014 and semi-final defeats in 2012 and 2015 have left Tipperary with serious question marks to their name.
On paper, Michael Ryan’s men are arguably the best team in the country, However, their failure to either show up or finish out games on the big day has proved very costly.
In his first season in charge, Michael Ryan looks to have added steeliness and bottle to the Tipp team. However, today they face their biggest challenge and a championship win is all that will satisfy most of the doubters.
New additions Seamus Kennedy, Michael Breen, Dan McCormack and John McGrath have excelled for Tipp and have added further talent to a potent Premier side. The re-positioning of Brendan Maher back to midfield and the return of Noel McGrath bring that added class and composure when needed.
Yesterday’s result would certainly not have been the one Tipperary favoured in terms of potential All-Ireland final opponents but they must overcome the Tribesmen first if they want any shot at another All-Ireland title.
Galway’s disappointment in last season’s September showdown saw manager Anthony Cunningham exit in controversial circumstances. The appointment of Micheal Donoghue was thought to rectify Galway’s issues but the Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny saw old problems re-emerge.
There is no question about Galway’s talent. They possess it in abundance. Any team in the country would wish for the likes of Johnny Coen, Daithi Burke, David Burke, Joe Canning and Cathal Mannion to be in their team.
However, their recent failures on the big stage and their tendency to wilt in the second-half, against Kilkenny in particular has seen the Tribesmen come in for some serious criticism.
Unwarranted criticism in some cases as much of the media went over board in turning on the Tribesmen following their Leinster final defeat at the hands of Kilkenny. Galway’s Joe Canning is one of the most criticised hurlers in the game and despite a relatively good summer so far for him in the Galway jersey, he is again expected to deliver a match-winning display at Croke Park today.
Like Tipperary, their failure to turn in performances on the big days has seen massive disappointment ensue for the Tribesmen. A win today would be of huge significance to Galway, but like Tipperary, it’s only the coveted All-Ireland crown that will answer the questions over these two teams.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena