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Every Day Is Groundhog Day When Brian Cody And Kilkenny Meet Galway

Every Day Is Groundhog Day When Brian Cody And Kilkenny Meet Galway
By Paul Ring Updated

The annual Leinster meetings between Galway and Kilkenny have become strange entities. It’s a rivalry that’s trying to define itself, trying to forge an identity independent of a provincial spat. Once in a blue moon Galway seem to catch Kilkenny and that generally keeps it rumbling along. The odd All-Ireland final doesn’t do any harm either but really it’s something of a conceived rivalry. A halfway measure design to at least throw a bump in the road for the annual black and amber procession to the Leinster title.

Galway came into yesterday with everything to prove after the coup against Anthony Cunningham last winter and they started like they meant business. Conor Whelan had plundered two excellent points within twelve minutes and when Cathal Mannion waltzed past Joey Holden and flung a point over, the pre-match shard of weakness in Kilkenny; the full back line, seemed to be rearing its head.

Mannion would take two further points off Paul Murphy and Kilkenny had a twelve minute spell in the first half when they didn’t register a score. Galway were winning the contestable balls, Padraic Mannion caught one glorious clearance, forced a free and presented us with a celebration that rendered Robbie Brady’s Italian slide almost shy in comparison. Kilkenny looked a little wobbly, Micheal Fennelly was borderline anonymous and yet, they went to halftime in a mere three points down.

There is a foreboding menace about this Kilkenny team when they are behind. It’s a little like Manchester United under Alex Ferguson. When they were a couple of goals down, you didn’t think it was enough, comebacks became fait accompli after one goal. At half time yesterday, Galway were clearly the better side, yet you couldn’t give them much of a chance.

Brian Cody made his adjustments at the half, springing a coiled Richie Hogan from the bench and pushing Walter Walsh into the corner. There is a familiar refrain about Cody, that he doesn’t ‘do’ tactics. Perhaps he doesn’t speak of systems or values and at his core, you’d like to believe he wants the game to stay fifteen on fifteen but no one makes adjustments like he does and when Hogan - some thirty seconds into the half arrowed a point over from the right side-line - you felt even then, Galway’s goose was cooked.

Hogan would win a free five minutes later after a superb block down and he was arguably man of the match despite only playing a half. He would have been irked to be sitting on the sideline yesterday but as ever, he responded in the way Cody would demand and feasted on Galway to the tune of five points.

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If the eternal class of Hogan was central to the win, two other major players in the game - Robert Lennon and Jonjo Farrell - continued the Kilkenny knack of finding players. Farrell in particular had a stormer, racking up 1-4 to go along with his haul of 1-5 in the previous round against Dublin. Kilkenny have even taken the old Cork maxim about hurlers emerging overnight like mushrooms.

For Galway, the defeat still offered hope for the summer. The full-forward line in particular carried plenty of menace but as ever, the age old question of what to do with Joe remained.


It was deep into stoppage time before Canning had his first shot in anger. He was a strangely peripheral figure here, emerging every so often to hit a long range free and then slinking back into the shadows. Galway seem to be forever looking for the balance of involving Joe enough yet not making him the focal point of the team. It seems to either be the Joe show or the no show. Until that’s solved, more days like yesterday await.

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For Kilkenny, they mercilessly rumble on, they were far from full tilt yesterday, yet ran out seven point winners. There’s promise in Waterford’s system, Clare’s youth and Tipperary’s tradition and perhaps the competition is best served by Cody and co not having to react to a loss.

You get the sense though, that it will have to be something special to stop another September procession.


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