BY NIALL SHERRY
ALL PIX: DANNY LAHART
Cody seeks third win at expense of Henry’s tribe
Sherry Says Preview……
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
Pearse Stadium, Galway, Sunday 1st May
Galway vs Kilkenny
Henry has been expecting us. Yes, it is true – Kilkenny legend and son of Ballyhale, Henry Shefflin IS Galway manager.
In this year’s Leinster championship, Galway have a win and a draw to their name. They started their campaign with an entertaining draw away to the Yellowbellies. In truth, they probably should have claimed maximum points in Chadwick’s Wexford Park, but Darragh Eagan’s charges made a comeback to claim a point.
In last week’s outing they racked up a big total against The Lake County, a massive 3-36, with 13 tribesmen contributing to the total. Galway had an impressive 2-25 on the score board by half-time, and were never troubled.
More pleasing for Shefflin will have been the spread of scorers in the rout of Westmeath. By minute 16, all six starting forwards had raised flags, along with their midfield pairing of David Burke and Cathal Mannion. Throw-in wing-back scorers Fintan Burke and Padraic Mannion, and you can see the sort of dilemma that faces Brian Cody and his backroom team ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend clash.
Kilkenny probably won’t register 2-34 against the westerners, and Galway certainly won’t notch 3-36 on Sunday, but both these sides are capable of running up decent totals.
The forward scoring power of the Cooney’s, Conor and Joe could again prove vital in Galway’s quest for victory along with that of Cianan Fahy and Brian Concannon. There’s no doubt that Huw Lawlor, Mikey Butler and the rest of the Kilkenny defensive unit will be thoroughly tested at Pearse Stadium. This is exactly the sort of test that the Noresiders need at this point of the season.
All the pundits are adamant that the winners of Liam McCarthy will come from Munster. It is down to the likes of Kilkenny & Sunday’s opponent’s Galway to throw down the gauntlet to the ‘Invincibles’ of Limerick and the other pretenders, Waterford and Cork.
One would imagine that this year’s captain Richie Reid will be itching to for a starting role and be hoping to inspire his team to victory over his former Ballyhale Shamrocks club mate and manager, Shefflin. So where do you play Richie Reid? Should we slot him in at midfield, or wing-back? I think the undoubted class that Richie possesses will be a crucial tool as Kilkenny seek to go deeper into the championship season.
Both James Maher and John Donnelly put in performances that warranted their starting roles last time out, and both will be hoping to get the nod in the west on Sunday. Both men got on the score sheet against Laois, but it was their all-round contribution that will have pleased their manager.
Adrian Mullen will look to take his Nowlan Park performance into the battle with Galway, and his 6-point haul against the O’Moore County was a timely reminder of the Ballyhale players undoubted ability.
Mullen’s battling qualities will certainly be required in Pearse Stadium, and as I have alluded to previously, Adrian’s ability to ‘mix it’ is something I’d want with me as you head into the trenches.
The championship minutes that the manager has managed to get into TJ Reid against Laois, will stand him in good stead going forward. The understanding that TJ, Adrian Mullen and Eoin Cody have built up at club level is a serious asset for the county side. Eoin Cody registered 1-5 last week and is beginning to get his sharpness back in the black & amber.
The half-forward line appears to be a tale of two Walsh’s. Both Padraig and Walter have been putting in solid performances throughout the season so far. The transformation from 6 to 11 has been seamless for the Tullaroan man, and his shooting has been exceptional.
Walter has been getting through mountains of work and his strong running has caused many problems for opposition defences. His ability to break lines and power forward has opened up both scoring chances for himself and his team mates around him.
Graigue-Ballycallan’s Billy Ryan was the only forward not to score in the opening period at Nowlan Park against Laois, and didn’t appear for the second half. Ryan has been in great form in county colours and will have better days ahead in the stripes of Kilkenny.
Training will be interesting this week – the competition for places on this Kilkenny team is really hotting up. When you can look to the bench and spring the likes of Alan Murphy, Mossy Keoghan, and young Tom Phelan, everyone within the squad knows that nothing less than 100% is needed at every session.
Let’s hope Codys’ Cats make it a hat-trick of wins in Leinster, in Connacht.