Galway and Kilkenny dropped some bombshells last night
Most of us were expecting two routine team announcements from Galway and Kilkenny last night. Turns out they were anything but.
There had been a certain lack of atmosphere and hype going into Sunday’s game because of the three-week gap between the first game and the replay, because replays are so rare in All-Ireland hurling finals and because there was such fanfare about the All-Ireland Football Final last weekend.
The ante was certainly upped when both teams were announced last night, however, with a few bombshells being dropped on both sides.
On the face of it, there’s nothing new about Galway because they have made no changes in personnel – there are a few minor positional changes – from the last day, but word emerged last night that goalkeeper James Skehill had suffered a serious shoulder injury in the Tribesmen’s final training session.
Galway Hurling Board PRO Jarlath Cloonan acknowledged that Skehill had indeed been injured, but told the Irish Examiner that “the management team fully expect James to play on Sunday”.
Changes had been predicted in the Kilkenny side after an uncharacteristically flat display by a lot of their players the first day out and Brian Cody has had no trouble wielding the axe.
Colin Fennelly and Aidan Fogarty have been dropped to the bench to be replaced by under-21 stars Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh, who will be making his championship debut on the biggest day of all.
Buckley has been named to start in the unfamiliar position of wing forward, but with Richie Hogan again lining out at midfield, Buckley may well drop back and let Hogan into the forward line at some stage.
James Skehill will be the man everyone will be looking out for before throw-in tomorrow, but the speculation about his fitness and the shake-up in the Kilkenny team has certainly helped heighten the anticipation ahead of the game.
Throw in at Croke Park is tomorrow at 3.30pm.
Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce; M Fennelly, R Hogan; C Buckley, R Power, E Larkin (capt); TJ Reid, W Walsh, H Shefflin.
Galway: J Skehill; J Coen, K Hynes, F Moore (capt); N Donoghue, T Regan, D Collins; I Tannian, A Smith, D Burke, N Burke, C Donnellan; D Hayes, J Canning, J Regan.