Tony Considine: Kilkenny and Galway will relish being written off at Croke Park

Limerick and Clare are fancied to set up an All-Ireland final repeat but that's no guarantee
Tony Considine: Kilkenny and Galway will relish being written off at Croke Park

Galway’s Darren Morrissey and TJ Reid of Kilkenny in action at Croke Park. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

WE are down to the last four in the hurling championship.

I cannot understand why the two semi-finals are not on the same day?

We had two football quarter-finals on the same day last week, so why not do the same for the semis in the hurling?

I’m sure a lot of people would like to see both games, and I am surprised that the county boards from the four counties did not request that these games be played together, especially in the current economic situation.

It would be giving something back to the supporters as well as good value for money.

It is very costly for families now going to games. It would have been good PR for the GAA too, to show that they really care about the people who fully support them. And it would add a tremendous atmosphere at Croke Park with a packed stadium for both games, instead of less than 50,000 for each.

Shane O'Donnell of Clare attempts to gather possession ahead of Gearoid Hegarty of Limerick. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane O'Donnell of Clare attempts to gather possession ahead of Gearoid Hegarty of Limerick. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The first game on Saturday will see Clare taking on the Cats; Munster v Leinster; Kilkenny have been waiting in the long grass after their Leinster final win.

A lot of talk about Kilkenny, everyone seems to be comparing this team to the great team of a few years ago, which I believe is a bit unfair. 

This Kilkenny team is not too bad either. They have won three Leinster titles in a row, but have no All-Ireland since 2015. That is a lifetime for Kilkenny.

They have a lot of new players in their team but are still playing with that great Kilkenny spirit that you always associate with Brian Cody teams. Of course, their skill level is always high and leadership seems to come easy to them.

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody watching the quarter-finals. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody watching the quarter-finals. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

In my opinion, they have the best goalkeeper in Ireland in Eoin Murphy. Sometimes he is the difference between Kilkenny winning and losing. He is a brilliant shot-stopper, great on puck-outs, and can also score some long-distance frees. He is one of the real leaders of this team and has been around a while now.

Hue Lawlor is also one of the best men in his position and is as tough as they come.

Also Paddy Deegan, another inspiration for Kilkenny, but the three men they look to get them over the line are Adrian Mullen, who is having a great year, Eoin Cody, and of course one of the greatest players of his generation, TJ Reid. The legs are not as fast as they used to be, but there is nothing wrong with the hands and the head.

Clare will have to match them and will have to be able to cope with Kilkenny’s intensity and aggression.

If they do that they have a great chance of winning this game, but they will need Paul Flanagan John Conlan, Diarmuid Ryan, and the man who is really hitting top form, David McInerney, to be on top of their game facing this Kilkenny attack.

They will also need their own attacking players, Ryan Taylor, David Fitzgerald, and especially Shane O’Donnell who is back to form and showing great leadership, but the man they need most of all, if he is free from injury, is Tony Kelly.

On his day I do not think he is markable, but Clare need him fully fit, especially for this game.

A Clare supporter and his child pose for a 'selfie' with Clare players Tony Kelly, Jack Browne and David Fitzgerald. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
A Clare supporter and his child pose for a 'selfie' with Clare players Tony Kelly, Jack Browne and David Fitzgerald. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Kilkenny will try to find ways to keep Kelly quiet and Cody knows that if they can do that they are well on their way.

But Lohan expects a lot from this team and Lohan also knows that moral victories are no good. He never believed in them himself as a player and I can assure you he does not believe in them now as a manager.

Two great men on the sideline here, will we see two great teams battling it out?

If both teams reflect their managers, it will definitely be manly.

Limerick are the hottest of favourites to win the other semi-final. Not alone to win but to win it well. I somehow don’t agree with that.

Galway were very poor against Cork and are lucky to be where they are, but Galway in All-Ireland semi-finals are a different kettle of fish.

They always seem to play their best in All-Ireland semi-finals, especially when they are underdogs.

They will be able to match Limerick physically and if they turn up and are mentally right, they are well capable of putting it up to the champions in what should be another cracker of a game.

The referee will have to be strong here.

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