herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Time for Tribes to rise again

THE last time Galway and Kerry clashed in championship football was back in 2008, when a deluge of almost biblical proportions rained down on Croke Park and forced the closure of Jones' Road for a period, as a torrent of water ran down the street.

Their All-Ireland quarter-final encounter was also memorable for the sheer brilliance of some of the score-taking, and although Kerry won out on a scoreline of 1-21 to 1-16, Galway, and in particular Michael Meehan who hit 0-10, appeared to be pointing the way forward for a fresh assault on All-Ireland glory.

Fast-forward to 2014 and it's quite staggering to believe that this weekend will mark the Tribesmen's first championship visit to Croke Park since that wet August evening.

In fact since lifting their last Connacht title in 2008, Galway have struggled to make any mark on championship football.

A solitary Connacht final appearance up until this year, and a complete failure to grasp the second chance the back-door presented, where up until last summer, they had not won a game since beating Louth in 2004.

This is in sharp contrast to their opposition on Sunday, who since that game have lifted three Munster titles, one All-Ireland and have at the very least reached the quarter-final stages in each of the last six years.

Experience

It is this big-game experience that I believe will ultimately see Kerry over the line on Sunday, despite that fact that they have been out of action for close on a month.

A quick scan of personnel further backs this up. Six of the players (seven if Colm Cooper had been in full health) that were involved back in 2008 will be available to Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice, chief amongst them a re-energised Declan O'Sullivan, who revelled in his sweeper positioning in the Munster final.

In comparison, Galway only boast three survivors from that memorable monsoon meeting where remarkably, in the absence of Michael Meehan who stepped away from the panel due to injury, Paul Conroy who made his championship debut earlier that year is now the most experienced attacker in their ranks.

That all six of Kerry's starting forwards scored from play in the Munster final must be a concern for Alan Mulholland, whose team struggled to deal with Tipperary's late onslaught last weekend, but given that they themselves hit 4-17, I wouldn't bet against another deluge this weekend, only this time in the shape of balls raining over and under the bar.

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