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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 19 September, 2019
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Selection Box: Galway v Kilkenny, All-Ireland SHC final

Here are some of the key issues facing Brian Cody and Anthony Cunningham when they sit down to select their line-ups this week.

Cyril Donnellan will be hoping to break back into the Galway team for next Sunday's All-Ireland final.
Cyril Donnellan will be hoping to break back into the Galway team for next Sunday's All-Ireland final.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

GALWAY
Injuries disrupted Galway’s team selection for their opening Leinster championship victory over Westmeath with James Skehill, David Collins and Joe Canning all ruled out.

But with both Skehill and Canning returning for the semi-final win over Offaly, and Collins back for the provincial final against Kilkenny, the team has had a settled look since then. Paul Gordon and Joseph Cooney had run outs in defence in those early clashes with Fergal Flannery deputising in goal for the Westmeath match and Davy Glennon getting a start in attack in the same match.

Their last two victories over Kilkenny and Cork has seen consistency develop in their team selection. Indeed the only change between both those games creates the critical question for Anthony Cunningham and his management team to answer ahead of next Sunday’s battle – does Cyril Donnellan come back into the attack having missed the semi-final against Cork with an arm injury?

Donnellan was on fire when Galway met the Cats in the Leinster final in July as he shot six points from play and his combination of forceful running and stylish shooting caused enormous problems for the Kilkenny rearguard on that occasion. He has now regained full fitness after being a late withdrawal before the Cork match as James Regan came in to start on that occasion. Regan acquitted himself well in grabbing two points but was substituted for Donnellan with eight minutes left on the clock against Cork.

Conor Cooney, who has failed to score in his last two matches, was the first forward brought off in that game with the Rebels. Essentially if Donnellan is introduced from the start it is likely to be either Regan or Cooney who makes way as Canning, Damien Hayes and the Burke’s – David and Niall – look certainties to start. Davy Glennon and Jonathan Glynn are other attacking options that Cunningham appears to rate highly given the amount of game time they have been exposed to but Donnellan seems the front-runner if the Galway manager opts to shake things up in attack.

Elsewhere it is difficult to envisage any changes with goalkeeper Skehill, the defensive sextet of Fergal Moore, Kevin Hynes, Johnny Coen, David Collins, Tony Óg Regan and Niall Donohue, and the midfield pairing of Andy Smyth and Iarla Tannian all in line to retain their positions.

KILKENNY
Brian Cody is guaranteed to make at least one change from Kilkenny’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over Tipperary with midfielder Michael Rice having sustained a nasty hand injury in that game which rules him out of this clash. The Carrickshock midfielder was replaced in that match by Cillian Buckley during the first-half and it looks likely that Buckley will get the nod to start on this occasion.

The Dicksboro player enjoyed a splendid start to the season but was one of the casualties of the Leinster final beating Kilkenny suffered against Galway as he lost his place for the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Limerick and the semi-final success against Tipperary. But he showed up well when introduced against the Premier and seems on course to be rewarded with a starting berth that will see him team up in the middle third with Michael Fennelly.

The rest of the team should be unchanged given the powerful nature of Kilkenny’s performance against Tipperary. Attacker Richie Hogan, sent-off against Limerick which resulted in him being suspended for the Tipperary game, is available for selection once more. But his replacement TJ Reid had an outstanding match in the semi-final against Tipperary when he fired 2-2 while Aidan Fogarty and Colin Fennelly were similarly impressive. The experienced trio of Henry Shefflin, Eoin Larkin and Richie Power will again be the cornerstone of the Cats forward line.

The defensive make-up of Kilkenny is unlikely to be altered which would mean Kieran Joyce will experience All-Ireland senior hurling final action for the first time as he is the sole newcomer to the rearguard, replacing Noel Hickey from the team that defeated Tipperary in last year’s decider. Buckley is the other player who is in line to sample a national senior hurling championship decider for the first time.

Next Sunday will mark Kilkenny’s seventh consecutive All-Ireland senior hurling final appearance. Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Eoin Larkin and Henry Shefflin have started in the last six finals while JJ Delaney, Richie Power and Aidan Fogarty have started in five of those deciders. Delaney missed the 2006 final through injury, Power came on as a substitute in the 2007 decider while Fogarty was not involved in last September’s final.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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