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Tue 21-Jul-2009 0:10
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Galway v Waterford will be lively
The second senior hurling quarter final next Saturday promises to be a lively affair and there is a belief in Waterford that they can deliver. In 1998 and 2006, Galway would have expected to prevail against the Deise but came up short.
Galway have been a different outfit so far this year, and have competitive games under their belt that they didn’t have in previous years. In many ways, Waterford’s recent Munster final performance, resembled the Galway vs Waterford league final of 2004, with many pondering how missed goal chances might have affected the outcome of the game. The very fact that they didn’t give up in the Munster final suggests that there will be a kick in them against Galway.
However, their full back line as always presents a major problem, especially now that Galway have their greatest hurler since the days of Joe Cooney wearing the Number 14 shirt. Despite the
tour de force
performances of their colossus Michael Walsh at centre back, they have been robbed of his presence in the middle of the field. Is it too much to ask of him and the team to step back a line further as he may well be their only credible option to shackle Joe Canning? This writer holds the belief that Waterford's best midfield pairing is Eoin Kelly and Michael Walsh, but leaks elsewhere prevent it from being nothing more than a futile vision.
Galway have their problems too as they are minus two of their first choice defence. Ollie Canning will be required to try and man mark John Mullane, so he will be unable to fill in for the injured Shane Kavanagh at full back. Ger Mahon seems to be dispensed with as a full back option meaning that there are two conventional full backs on the bench, both of the 1996 All Ireland minor final vintage, Damien McLearn and Eugene McEntee. Barring Paul Kelly of Tipperary, any other player who made the grade at senior level from those finalists, have long since hung up their boots. It’s interesting to see this pair resurrected 13 years later.
If it comes down to a head to head, the Portumna man may well be the better option by virtue of consistent appearances on St Patrick's Day. Joe Canning for all his greatness will need to vary his line balls. On three occasions against Cork, there were men loose across field, waiting for a simple pass. If only to get the opposition thinking, perhaps it’s not a bad idea to take the occasional short one. One point from five line balls is not a high percentage, and might yet be a wasteful percentage in a tight game.
Much has been made of the unsettled Waterford camp in recent weeks, but the Limerick camp hasn’t been the most settled either at times, but victories have come. If Waterford click on the day, they can be very difficult to quell. Jack Kennedy is no longer around due to another of these detestable macho management decisions to haul off a player before half time. Paul Browne of Limerick was in a similar situation yesterday but a welcome point handed him a reprieve. At this stage, the GAA need to bring in a rule barring tactical substitutions before half time. They achieve nothing apart from shattering the confidence of players. And they signify a glaring admission from the management that they got things wrong.
Coming through hard matches gives Galway a dimension they haven’t had in the past and it should pull them over the finishing line in this game.
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