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'Kilkenny came at Galway all guns blazing and I don't know will they able to bring it again'

Two-time All-Star Joe Rabbitte believes Galway have got the shock they need to rejuvenate their championship campaign.

TWO-TIME ALL-STAR Joe Rabbitte suspects that Kilkenny might not be able to reproduce the performance they gave against Galway in the drawn Leinster SHC final, when the sides do battle again on Sunday afternoon [Throw-in, 3pm].

Tj Reid Kilkenny's TJ Reid with Galway defender Padraic Mannion. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

After suffering a seven-point defeat to the reigning champions in Salthill during the round-robin series, Kilkenny responded in Croke Park last Sunday with a clinical display that ended Galway’s run of nine consecutive championship victories.

Galway were three-points clear of their rivals in the 67th minute of the game, but a flurry of late scores from Kilkenny, including an impressive long-range shot from TJ Reid ensured that the decider would have to be settled in a replay.

Galway hurling legend Rabbitte says that Kilkenny came prepared for the battle last weekend after taking some lessons from the previous meeting with Galway in Pearse Stadium, but he ultimately thinks that this could be just the shock that Galway need to rejuvenate their championship campaign.

“An injured Kilkenny can be dangerous,” he tells The42.

They were up for the game last weekend so Galway may have got caught a little bit complacent, but that’s to expected when you’re after beating a team four weeks ago and you’re coming again.

“You may feel that you have enough to beat them but Kilkenny are different. Kilkenny will always go to the end.

“I suppose there’s a good young team coming up there in Kilkenny and as you could see from the subs they brought on last weekend as well, Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly and those guys are not gone away either. They’re fantastic subs to bring on at the end of a game.”

Richie Hogan arrives Richie Hogan. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He continues:

“It was the tonic Galway needed, it was a tough game, and when it was over, my gut feeling was that Galway would win the replay.

“Kilkenny came at them all guns blazing and I don’t know will they able to bring it again. I suppose they have a couple of young guys there. The way the team was picked – Padriag Walsh in at full-back was a new one so Galway will have read that situation and maybe they’ll play a team not to suit Kilkenny basically.

“When you look at the Kilkenny team of last weekend, it was a kind of newish team for championship hurling. Galway will be able to put the likes of Jonathan Glynn in a position where he can catch those high balls and maybe break more ball around the forwards.”

This will be an unusual Leinster decider in that it will be taken away from their own province and staged in Semple Stadium. The Thurles grounds have been chosen as an alternative venue for Croke Park which was preoccupied with hosting a Michael Bublé concert on Saturday night.

Kilkenny and Galway of course have a recent history when it comes to replays, and the records slightly favour the Cats in that regard.

Kilkenny have suffered just one replay defeat in 20 championships, according to an article in the Irish Examiner, and two of their more recent victories were achieved against Galway.

Brian Cody’s charges defeated the Tribesmen in the 2014 Leinster semi-final replay and also claimed an emphatic victory against the same opposition at the second time of asking in the 2012 All-Ireland final.

The Cats have always proved to be tricky opponents for Galway down through the years, and the sides managed to avoid each other last year as Galway completed a clean sweep of National League, provincial and All-Ireland titles.

Joe Rabbitte Joe Rabbitte in action for Galway in the 2001 All-Ireland SHC final against Tipperary. Source: INPHO

But while a win over Kilkenny would indeed bring obvious benefits for Galway on this occasion, Rabbitte insists that they don’t need a victory over their rivals to solidify their status as champions.

“There was never an easy All-Ireland won so they don’t have to prove to anybody — they’re All-Ireland champions and that’s it.

What they have to prove is for this year not last year, nobody can say they won a handy All-Ireland because there’s no such thing. And Galway did beat Kilkenny in the Leinster final in 2012, so it’s not going to be the first time that Galway beat Kilkenny in a championship game [if they win on Sunday].

“Kilkenny has brought that excitement to Croke Park for the last 20 years since Brian Cody took over. Kilkenny have set a marker for every other county and any time you’re playing against a team like that you want to be trying to beat them anyway because they are the team of the last 20 years.”

The Athenry clubman expects a tight contest to unfold on Sunday afternoon, but reckons that his home county will have just about enough to edge out the tie.

“It’ll go down to the wire again I have no doubt but I think Galway will have the power and maybe the preparation of an extra game will have done an awful lot for them.”

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