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Leisnter SHC Replay Preview: Galway v Kilkenny

Last weekend’s Leinster Senior Hurling semi-final saw Kilkenny lose a ten point lead to Galway in a thrilling encounter in Tullamore.

The sides were level no less than ten times over the course of the seventy minutes. With sixty-three minutes gone Kilkenny were ten points ahead of the Westerners and for the ten minutes previously dominated the game scoring 1-8 to Galway’s 0-1. The game looked dead and buried with some Galway fans heading for home.

Galway then proceeded to turn the tables on the Cats and out-scored them 3-3 to 0-2 with five minutes to go; levelling the game. For Kilkenny to be ‘out-Kilkennyed’, as many commentators said during the week, is something that doesn’t happen often.

The question before last week’s game was what Galway team would turn up on the day. This week, however, the question changed to what Kilkenny team will turn up on the day?

Richie Power came back to the panel last week after injury however he sustained an injury in last weekend’s game so he is out of Brian Cody’s plans. Michael Fennelly is still out after injuring himself in training before last weekend’s game. The question of starting Henry Shefflin also arises.

Last weekend Shefflin came on as an impact substitute for the Cats with minutes to go. He was immediately effective; scoring a point from play in injury time before Joe Canning scored the equaliser at the opposite end of the field.

With both Kilkenny and Galway scoring well in ten minute bursts; or in Galway’s case a five minute burst, the defence of each team is called into question. Galway were left to run right through the Kilkenny defence in the last five minutes of the last meeting between the pair. Conor Hayes, former All-Ireland winning captain with Galway, posed the question on Galway Bay FM during the week ‘can Brian Cody trust the younger fellas to come up trumps?’ Experience is the question; can the likes of Pádraig Walsh and Mark Kelly step up? Or should Kilkenny go all out from the off and start with Pádraig’s older brother Tommy, Aidan Fogarty and Henry Shefflin to ensure a win?

Questions also arise for Anthony Cunningham’s side. Johnny Glynn and Joseph Cooney came on as impact substitutes last weekend. Glynn immediately had an impact; catching aerial balls and winning a penalty for the Tribesmen. Joseph Cooney was also instrumental in the working of a Galway goal. Conor Hayes is expecting a ‘tighter game’ in Tullamore this Saturday.

Anthony Cunningham speaking to Galway Bay FM’s Seán Walsh this week said that Galway are ‘delighted to get a second chance at Kilkenny’. Galway are also injury free. He also said that the team would ‘feed off the Galway supporter’s spirit’ and use it as morale booster ahead of the replay.

In a post-match interview last week Cody said ‘I’m always saying, in hurling, seven, eight, nine or 10 points is nothing. The only time the scoreboard matters, is when the final whistle blows.’ Saturday’s replay is bound to be yet another close encounter between the Tribes and the Cats.

Galway start as they did the last day while Kilkenny will be finalising the team before throw in at O’Connor Park. Intensities and rivalries will be renewed again. The Leinster Council have announced that the game is a sell-out. One thing is for sure if Saturday’s game is even close in comparison to last weekend’s thriller there will be no supporters heading for the turnstiles before full-time.

Throw in at O’Connor Park Tullamore is at 7.00p.m.

Amy Forde, Pundit Arena.

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