Loneskarkoy previews the All Ireland Hurling Final and he is predicting Limerick to eventually get the better of Galway.
Galway vs Limerick
Earlier this Summer, I was in conversation with a Galway hurling supporter who seemed a little concerned in the aftermath of the Leinster hurling final draw with Kilkenny. They’d been in Croke Park to watch their team build up a substantial lead, only to get reeled in over the course of the game by a Kilkenny side that most would have seen as a little off the mark required when it came to winning the All-Ireland.
My view at the time was that Kilkenny were no worse than any of the other contenders out there, and that this would be as close as anyone got to Galway all year. Clare disproved the second part of that theory, but I’m not remotely convinced that Limerick are suddenly way better than the rest of the chasing pack. They edged over the line against the Cats, admittedly against the advice of this column, even though Kilkenny had lost a Leinster final replay the previous weekend. Take that handicap away, and would we definitely see the same result? It’s impossible to say.
They just about deserved their win over Cork, but if the Rebels had narrowly held on, or Nickie Quaid hadn’t made that superb save to deny Seamus Harnedy, no-one would now be talking about Limerick, any more than anyone is now talking about Cork.
It’s entirely possible that by 5.30pm tomorrow evening, the dust will have settled on Galway’s retention of the championship and Clare will be recognised as the second best team in the country.
And yet, there are red flags everywhere when it comes to Galway too. It’s not that Limerick are way out ahead of the chasing pack, but it’s beginning to look like the pack as a whole has come to swallow up Galway.
Taking a named team at face value seems almost quaint at this stage, but for now we expect to see Galway tog out with the exact same team that started last year’s All-Ireland final. That’s not necessarily a good thing, as it suggests that there is a lack of springers from the rest of the panel, and the lack of a contribution from the bench would back this up. Despite some injury concerns, a slight dip in form from some of the starters, this remains the case – and will be really tested in the latter stages of this contest when Limerick spring Shane Dowling, Pat Ryan and the rest from the bench.
If Limerick are to win this, it’ll be that late surge from their replacements will be crucial – which is why our first bet this week is Galway to lead at half time, but Limerick to win the game. Even allowing for the extra week of prep time – invaluable in the modern era where statistical analysis has become so crucial to the game – Galway know the occasion, they know what they’re about in the early stages and they can be trusted to settle right in. Limerick may take time, but given their age profile and their depth, their best hurling will be done in the latter stages – hence our bet.
For our second wager, we’re going to look at the Limerick puckout, and specifically something that has become apparent over the last few games, and was highlighted by Donal O’Grady in today’s Irish Examiner. Gearóid Hegarty has become the primary puckout target for Nickie Quaid, and his match up with Aidan Harte looks like an obvious area for Limerick to try and attack. Expect Cian Lynch to drift around the place, which will in turn will in all likelihood lead to Gearóid McInerney sitting back in front of the full back line with somebody like Johnny Coen picking up Lynch.
Tom Morrissey on Padraic Mannion looks like advantage Galway, so Hegarty moving infield ever so slightly and taking on Aidan Harte in the air looks like a primary target. On that basis, Hegarty to score over 2.5 points is well worth a look at 5/4.
Galway to lead at half time, Limerick to win at 5/1 with Paddy Power and Boylesports
Gearóid Hegarty to score over 2.5 points, 5/4, Boylesports