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Friday 9 December 2016

All Ireland Hurling Final: Tribe hopeful that famine can be ended with victory over Cats

'No side is unbeatable' - says former goalkeeper Commins

Colm Callanan, Galway
Colm Callanan, Galway

John Commins, who kept goals in 1987 and '88, the most recent occasions that Liam MacCarthy was brought to Galway and a selector with this year's minors, smiles when he says his "shoulders are getting heavy from carrying," that success around at this stage.

There's a seriousness in his tone, too.

"They'll have to beat the best team in the country for the last how many years but they have the opportunity," Commins acknowledges.

"People are saying Kilkenny are unbeatable - there is no team unbeatable. At some stage they will have to get beaten."

OPTIMISM

Enthusiasm or optimism has never dried up in Galway in the barely believable 27 years since they last landed an All-Ireland SHC title.

Nor talent nor motivation.

Quite why the pieces haven't fitted together is the source of endless talk and angst but most of them seem to exist in the current side.

"This is a huge, huge ask for the boys, but it's also a huge opportunity," Commin points out.

"I would give them a huge chance. We have forwards that would bother any backs in the country.

"We've a top class goalkeeper in Colm (Callanan) - he was outstanding the last day - and our backs are well able to hurl.

"People are saying Seamus Callanan scored three goals the last day. The form Callanan is in, he's going to do damage anyway.

"The match-ups are going to be very important the next day," the Gort clubman continues.

"TJ Reid is going to have to be watched. Richie Hogan as well."

As are each of the moving parts of the Galway attack and even if this hasn't been Joe Canning's most consistent year, to underestimate his ability to dominate a game - even Sunday's - would be a deriliction of duty.

"There's an awful lot of pressure put on Joe down the years," Commins admits.

"He's a remarkable hurler. He deserves an All-Ireland.

"A lot of the stuff about the Joe Show comes from outside Galway. He has been remarkable but he always has had five lads with him.

"Ok, they haven't all played well on the day but at the moment we have other forwards scoring which has taken the pressure off him.

"When your wing-forwards are scoring two and three points apiece, you have Johnny Glynn coming in with a score or two, then Joe gets a few scores, it makes it that bit easier.

"You need more lads contributing scores."

Which seems to be the charm of this year's team.

Cathal Mannion, Jason Flynn and Conor Whelan have all taken up some of the slack.

"These lads have played in All-Ireland finals before, albeit at minor level," Commins, points out

He describes Callanan,meanwhile, as "by far the best 'keeper in the country at the moment.

"He's been brilliant. He distribution is class, he has a very good puck-out, he can alter it - hit it high, hit it flat.

"His agility and flexibility is class - the save he made from Lar Corbett was probably the winning save of the match.

"He was down, next thing Lar doubled on it on a half volley.

"It was going to the top right hand corner. Colm got a strong hand on it. Brilliant save."

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