On what was another weekend of sport the biggest highlight has got to be Galway’s beating of Kilkenny in the Leinster final.
Actually beating the Cats is a rarity and something to be proud of but it was the manner of the victory that truly surprised everyone. The Tribesmen went out and really stuck it to the Cats, they out Kilkenny-ied Kilkenny if you get my drift. As has been the case every time we have watched Kilkenny in the last few years they have always started in top gear, brushing aside the opposition as if they were not even there. Clocking up a score line and physically draining their opponents in such a way as to leave them shattered and drained. But this time around Galway were the ones who came out firing on all cylinders. In an opening half performance that was one of the finest to grace this years or any year’s championship, Galway were simply unstoppable. They harried and harassed the Cats in every corner of Croke Park’s spacious field. Their forwards were led superbly by Joe Canning who strode around the park like a legendary hero of old, plucking the sliotar from the sky and gracefully blasting over and under the bar on one occasion. David Burke has signalled his intention of becoming a star of the future, Damien Hayes showed why he was awarded an All Star in times gone by and someone will have to check Richie Power’s fillings after he was juggernauted by Johnny “I’m going through ya” Coen. In fact I could name nearly the entire Galway team such was the level of the performance that Anthony Cunningham got out of his players.
In the end Galway ran out winners on a ten point margin. They became the first team to win the Leinster Championship and not actually be from that province. Winning a provincial and not actually being from that province did not seem to matter to the Galway hurlers or supporters yesterday who celebrated wildly at the final whistle. And well they might, what they did to Kilkenny was truly extraordinary and the hope is now that they will push on for further glory. The problem with the back door set up is that they will have to skin the Cats again or hope that someone else will do them a favour. It really has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons to quote a horrible pun, as now some team on the other side of the draw are going to have to face Kilkenny sooner than expected.
The problem for Galway now is that they are going to be sitting around for some time with nothing to do. Granted they have one game left to an All-Ireland but Anthony Cunningham is going to have his hands full keeping those busy till that semi-final.
The summer is blown open though and it is just what the hurling series needed as it was getting tiring watching Kilkenny dominate in the fashion that they have the last ten years or so. Don’t get me wrong I love Kilkenny’s style and I am fully aware when watching them that they are the greatest collection of hurlers of any age but at the risk of sounding like every true Irish man I loved seeing them being dragged down a peg or two. Brian Cody was ever gracious in defeat as a true legend of a man that he is but you know that the next team to face Kilkenny are in for it, they are going to get an awful hiding as the Cats claws will be out and well sharpened.