Galway still in the mix for big prizes
Offaly hero Duignan reckons Tribesmen may have 'best forward line in the game'
Kilkenny's crushing second half display against Dublin last Saturday in O'Moore Park brought back a few memories.
It was only nine months ago that they did the same thing in the All-Ireland final; turned the pressure and physicality gauge up to its awesome limit and examine whether the opposition have the utensils to live in that sort of heat.
Nine months ago, Galway led the All-Ireland final at half-time.
They're not even in the All-Ireland conversation, apparently.
For reasons of a very acrimonious change of management, they burned slow in the league and were relegated, yet according to Michael Duignan this week "on their day, they have possibly the best forward line in the game".
Which surely qualifies them as being at least relevant to the Liam MacCarthy picture?
"I always rate Galway very highly because of their championship form," Duignan said at a promotional event.
"They're not far away from Kilkenny over the last number of years.
"They're arguably in the top two or three, even though they've been kind of forgotten about this year.
"People are saying Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Tipp are the four, but I would have Galway in that as well."
It just depends on whether they're having one of their highly functional 'on' years or those notorious off seasons which seem to come in equal measure.
On the heave against Anthony Cunningham, the theory about these sorts of situations goes that the team that removes its own manager puts itself under more intense pressure for the following season.
Presumably, that pressure is increased if the team happened to be leading the All-Ireland final at half-time nine months previously under the ousted man.
"It mightn't be a bad thing," Duignan reckons. "They're around a while now and competing in All-Irelands.
"It'll work both ways, it'll drive them on and it'll help them and they'll handle it or else, when push comes to shove, they won't handle it.
"I do think they're very equipped to compete, they have great forwards and scoring options all over the place."
Duignan continues: "I thought Joe Canning looked incredibly fit against Westmeath, I don't think I've ever seen him looking as lean.
"It's early doors with them but I always look at the previous championship to look at this year's form and they're right up there, they led an All-Ireland final by four points, they're the team that's competed best with Tipp and Kilkenny over the last five years, I don't think they're too far away.
"Is that pressure on them?
"It's probably gone," he surmises.
"It'll be game to game. That happened last year, it's forgotten about. I think they should be mature enough to handle it."
Whether they're All-Ireland material or not, it's unlikely Galway will be forced into the extremities of their ability by an Offaly team just about resisting Armageddon.
"They're up against it," Duignan acknowledges, though as he points out, Offaly have a decent attack of their own if they win enough ball to feed it.
"If you look at the Westmeath game as a guide, Offaly were well beaten and then Galway beat Westmeath.
"But they've rebuilt a bit since and gained a bit of confidence and even turning around that Laois defeat from last year is a start.
"But looking at Galway, they look very sharp," Duignan says. "So it's a tough one."
Anything other than a handy Galway win qualifies as a shock.
ODDS: Galway 1/25, Draw 25/1, Offaly 10/1