This weekend marks one of the most important fixtures of the 2017 hurling calendar. Wexford and Galway go head-to-head in a crucial Leinster final. Ahead of the game we take a look at three key battles that will determine the outcome.
The importance of this Leinster final is astounding. Galway will feel the game is a must-win, while their Wexford counterparts have craved silverware for 13 years now.
As always with finals, leaders will carry a weight of expectation on their shoulders. Both the Tribesmen and the Yellowbellies have been highly impressive in their paths to the final.
A loss in this final would not be as damaging to Wexford as it would to Galway. Now carrying the favourites tag for Liam MacCarthy, a loss here would be devastating to Micheal Donoghue’s men.
Davy Fitzgerald has already seen Wexford into bonus territory. However, this doesn’t mean his side are taking to this final pressure-free. It’s a long time since the 2004 triumph and the Wexford public are crying out for silverware.
David Burke vs Lee Chin
Not just a key battle this Sunday, this may be one the most interesting duals we see all summer. All things considered, these two are arguably either sides key links in transitioning defence to attack.
Burke has blossomed into one of the country’s best midfielders of the decade. The St Thomas club hurler has been an All-Star at midfield the past two seasons and looks set for a third. Burke’s ability to be the launch-pad for attacks is crucial for Galway.
With that said, Lee Chin will undoubtedly provide David Burke with his toughest opposition this year. Chin was beyond description with his performance against Kilkenny. Another heroic performance will be needed once more by Chin if Wexford are to take home the trophy.
Ultimately the winner of this clash could have a huge say in this game and will be eagerly anticipated.
Conor McDonald vs Daithí Burke
Presently, most would select Daithí Burke as the best full-back in the country. However, equally as many would point to the fact that McDonald is one of the most lethal forwards in the game. What everybody will agree on is that this is set to be a huge clash.
Daithí Burke has proven to be one of the very few with the ability to handle any full-forward. His display against Seamus Callanan in 2016 was one of the finest full-back displays of the modern era. If Daithí Burke hits peak form again, he could potentially negate Wexford’s biggest weapon.
By Conor McDonald’s high standards, he will have been somewhat disappointed with his Leinster semi-final display. However, it is common knowledge that when in form, very few can handle the big full forward. The men from the south-east will have high expectations for McDonald ahead of this one.
Matthew O’Hanlon vs Joe Canning
However many times it has been pointed out in the past, Joe Canning’s significance is simply too great for words. If Davy Fitz and his side wish to upset the odds once more, O’Hanlon will need a colossal performance.
Year after year Galway folk debated as to where Joe should be placed. It appears as though Micheál Donoghue has found the answer. Now operating at 11, Canning appears rejuvenated and is in truly magnificent form. If the Portumna man hits the type of form we know he can, it will most likely be a miserable evening for Wexford.
What should help Matthew O’Hanlon hugely is the fact that his side will operate with a sweeper. What this will mean for O’Hanlon is that he will have freedom to man-mark Canning without leaving a gap. However, the Wexford joint-captain will know that nothing less than his finest hour will be enough against an in-form Canning.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena