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All-Ireland winner Finnerty wary of Limerick's 'better bench' as Galway sit on brink of 'incredible feat'

Limerick are challenging Galway for the All-Ireland crown this weekend.

GALWAY HURLING LEGEND Pete Finnerty fears that Limerick will have a superior bench than the Tribesmen for their All-Ireland final showdown this Sunday [throw-in, 3.30pm].

Shane Dowling scores his sides penalty Shane Dowling scoring a penalty for Limerick in their All-Ireland semi-final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Limerick’s substitutes made a notable impact in their All-Ireland semi-final victory over Cork, with Shane Dowling converting a crucial extra-time penalty while Pat Ryan also found the back of the net after being sprung from the bench.

Finnerty has been impressed with their contribution to Limerick’s overall championship campaign and has also observed that Galway struggled in this area in their All-Ireland semi-final clash with Clare.

They’ve made an impact every time they’ve come off the bench and they have a stronger bench than us being honest,” says Finnerty.

“When we had to replace Gearóid McInerney, we had to bring a forward back to do it. We had no obvious direct swap and if Gearóid is playing on Sunday and he is fit but his leg was to go again well, then we’re going to be down a forward.

Pete Finnerty Pete Finnerty illustrating pride in his county colours at a media day ahead of this weekend’s GAA Hurling All-Ireland Final. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Ok we have [Jason] Flynn to come in and maybe Niall Burke to come in or Jonathan Glynn or whoever starts.

But if you take another man out of that and bring in one, you only two marquee forwards to bring in then.

“When our subs come in this time, they have to perform because we can’t let a lead slip again like we have against Kilkenny and Clare.”

While Finnerty has concerns about this aspect of Galway’s game, he was pleased with the character they showed against Clare the first day out when All-Star talents including McInerney, Joe Canning and David Burke were all on the bench at a crucial stage in the game.

Joe Canning receives medical attention Joe Canning receiving medical attention during Galway's All-Ireland semi-final clash with Clare. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“You have to give credit to Galway the day that we were two points down and a few minutes to go in extra-time, there was a time you looked at the bench and you looked at five All-Stars who were injured or taken off.

“Johnny Coen missed an easy point to win the match and still he had the guts and determination to throw it over the bar to put us a point again.

“They showed an awful lot of character under an awful lot of pressure that day and I know they have ran it close at times. But nine games is a lot too. We would be hoping that some of the Limerick lads would get caught in the headlights and mightn’t turn up on the day.

And we’d be hoping with our experience and our forward power, when we click, we can be virtually unmarkable at times but doing it for 20 or 25 minutes is not going to win an All-Ireland.”

Finnerty was a vital defensive cog in the Galway team who secured back-to-back All-Ireland titles between 1987 and 1988.

He quotes their famous manager Cyril Farrell when he says that ‘there’s no winter when you win an All-Ireland’ on account of the celebrations and good times that sustain the players through the dark and cold nights.

It was an experience which Finnerty and his crew were able to enjoy over successive Christmas periods before a 29-year drought set in.

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Peter Finnerty and the Galway team 1987 Finnerty and the Galway team of 1987. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Mullagh clubman opines that All-Ireland success helps a player ‘ grow up a little bit and get a bit more mature.’ He saw it in his own teammates at the time and he is seeing history repeat itself among the current Galway players who are seeking to emulate those successful teams of the late 80′s.

“I can even see it in Adrian Tuohy and John Hanbury, lads like that that weren’t maybe that confident maybe two years ago or a year ago. They’re now playing with a different panache and different style,” he says.

It would be an incredible feat if they win on Sunday. It’ll be their ninth game and nobody else has had to play nine games to win an All-Ireland. Back in our day we probably would have three All-Ireland finals won for nine because we only really played three games if we played three at all.

“So it would be an incredible feat to put back-to-back All-Irelands with such a tough and fantastic campaign.

It’s something special to do the second one because not many teams have done [it] outside of Kilkenny. They were an exceptional team and we were blessed to see them. There is a lot of pressure, but they’re capable of doing it as well.

Hurling legend Pete Finnerty has teamed up with Guinness as part of their GAA campaign ‘Bound Together’ which celebrates the power of the GAA to unite, and heroes the fans and their passionate commitment and connection to their local communities. Enjoy Guinness sensibly. Visit www.drinkaware.ie.

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