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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 24 February, 2019

Did Burke's 'fear' comments rile up the Cats, Kilkenny's late fightback and replay venue controversy

5 talking points after Galway and Kilkenny played out an entertaining Leinster SHC final draw.

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

1. Late Kilkenny comeback

WHEN JOSEPH COONEY lofted over Galway’s 18th point to move them three ahead in the 67th minute, Galway appeared on the verge of retaining their Leinster crown.

TJ Reid celebrates scoring a point to level the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

John Donnelly reduced the gap to two before Joe Canning sent his fifth shot of the day wide from a free he’d expect to nail. Buoyed by Canning’s miss, Kilkenny replacement Richie Hogan, introduced 10 minutes earlier, picked out Enda Morrissey with a brilliant ball and the wing-back reduced the gap to one.

As the crowd urged them on, Donnelly did well to pick up a long clearance and feed TJ Reid for the equaliser. Galway were in control, but failed to close the game out in a frantic finish and were ruthlessly punished by Brian Cody’s side.

Kilkenny had five championship rookies on the field by the end and the manner of their fightback bodes well for the future of the youngsters in black and amber.

2. Replay venue controversy

After a week where the GAA were embroiled in a battle with Kildare over playing their All-Ireland SFC qualifier clash with Mayo in Newbridge, the last thing they’d have wanted was more controversy over a venue.

The Michael Bublé concert taking place in Croke Park on Saturday night meant the pitch is unavailable this weekend, so Semple Stadium has been confirmed as the destination for the rematch.

Some debate over the practicality of staging concerts at headquarters during the inter-county season is likely to take place over the coming days as the Leinster final heads outside the province for the first time in history.

Cathal Mannion and Eoin Murphy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3. Did David Burke’s comments rile up Kilkenny?

Galway captain David Burke raised some eyebrows during the pre-Leinster final press conference when he said the Cats “still fear playing Galway.”

The Tribesmen had eight points to spare over the Cats in their round-robin clash at Salthill, but Cody’s troops looked far sharper this afternoon and there was little evidence the maroon jersey intimidated them.

Burke’s decision to question Kilkenny’s manhood undoubtedly gave the Cats a little extra motivation and you can be sure Cody referenced those comments in the dressing room prior to throw-in.

4. Defenders come out on top in error-ridden contest

Neither Galway or Kilkenny played anywhere near their best here, with the tackle count of 53 (22 for Kilkenny and 31 for Galway) summing up how intense and frantic the game was.

In a match littered with sloppy stick passing, mishit handpasses and 23 wides both teams effectively cancelled each other out for long spells. Much of that can be put down to the brilliance of defenders – with the Kilkenny full-back line of Paul Murphy, Paddy Deegan and in particular Padraig Walsh deserving a special mention.

On the half-back line Joey Holden was excellent, while Cillian Buckley edged his contest with Canning. On the Galway side of things, Daithi Burke kept Walter Walsh under wraps, while corner-backs Adrian Tuohy and John Hanbury held Billy Ryan and Ger Aylward to 0-3 between them.

Padraig Mannion and Aidan Harte cleared a sight of ball, particularly in the third quarter when Galway were starting to control matters. With so many attackers falling short of expectations, you’d expect both counties to jig around things in the forward division for the replay.

Jonathan Glynn claims a high ball Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

5. Galway forwards fail to catch fire

All six of Galway’s starting forwards scored from play, but it was far from a free-flowing attack.

The Tribesmen put up 7-89 in four games during the round robin phase, averaging 27.5 per game but their 0-18 tally fell well below that today.

Galway’s three inside forwards bunched together and they bombarded the Kilkenny full-back line with aerial ball, but Conor Cooney and Conor Whelan struggled to outfield Murphy, Walsh and Deegan. Even the 57th-minute introduction of Jonathan Glynn failed to change matters, although he fetched one long delivery but sent his shot wide.

Niall Burke did clip over 0-4 from the corner and Cathal Mannion contributed three points, but they’ll need to get Whelan, especially, more involved next time out.

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Kevin O'Brien

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