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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Watching Tipp win was 'hard' for Harte

Galway's Aidan Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway's Aidan Harte. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Harte doesn't lie. Watching Tipperary steamroll Kilkenny last September wasn't easy if you happened to be a Galway hurler.

Not just because of Galway's now 29-year All-Ireland wait. More so because no one ran Tipp closer last summer.

Just one point separated them at the death of that pulsating semi-final... what followed in the final only fuelled their angst.

"Of course it's hard to take," Harte agreed. "You feel it a bit when you see Tipp go on and win it, you always think to yourself, 'Jesus, that could be us'. But every day is different - all games take on a life of their own really."

Eight months on, Galway and Tipperary are set to renew battle on Sunday with an Allianz League title at stake. While last August was harrowing (Galway led by two points on the hour) at least hindsight offered solace that they are edging closer.

"We're just trying to build that level of consistency," Harte explained. "To have a team that supporters are proud of every day they go out, and they can see everyone is really giving their all."

Promotion from Division 1B was Galway's primary spring goal; Harte doesn't claim otherwise. After just two rounds, and a home defeat to Wexford, that target was blown to smithereens.

"What are you going to do - down tools in February, or pick up and go again?" he recounted. "That was the obvious thing we do. We just took it game by game with the league and, look it, we're delighted to be where we are."

The Gort defender already has one NHL medal (from 2010, and his previous incarnation as a forward) and would love a second.

Yet, peering beyond Sunday, he spies an ultra-competitive Leinster landscape - still led by Kilkenny. "You don't know what they've done over the winter ... they still have the class," he warned.

"Wexford have come on leaps and bounds. I saw Dublin play a few league games - there is top quality there regardless of what players are missing. No doubt they will pose a huge threat in Tullamore. Really hotting up for a good summer."

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