It’s at all times superb how one weekend of video games can change a lot. This day final week, I had Kilkenny and Galway down as being two fairly related groups. I’d say most individuals had been the identical. Probably Galway a bit additional up the pecking order however not by a lot.
Similar make-up, related expertise degree all through the squad, related potential. Both Leinster finalists final yr and the vast majority of folks would have been anticipating a repeat of that remaining match-up this time round. But now, after final weekend, they exist on two fully completely different planets. And I’ve been in each.
One staff is caught now with their heads stuffed with questions with no apparent solutions. They are stuffed with what-ifs, uncertainty and doubts. That frame of mind will type the premise of the start line of all the pieces they do that week. They are on the again foot instantly, as in the event that they’re watching a Leaving Cert paper the place they will do 5 of seven questions – the opposite two they gained’t even try. Those can be for later after they have their confidence again.
For the opposite staff, it is a week the place each participant has grown an inch taller. They can be stuffed with confidence, they are going to be glowing. They can be going round with a bounce of their step and that bounce will solely get greater because the week goes on and the our bodies get better after such a titanic battle.
So why did Galway fall flat on their face and Kilkenny recover from the road? Going into the weekend, all of us thought Galway would beat Dublin. We knew Kilkenny v Wexford was at all times going to be a decent one – possibly not extra-time tight however we knew there wouldn’t be a lot in it.
Let’s begin with them. Kilkenny had a stunning mixture of one thing new and contemporary, blended with the outdated values of a Brain Cody Kilkenny staff. Firstly, the brand new. I’ve by no means seen a Kilkenny staff conceding the puck-out to an opposition and retreating past the opposition’s 45. For the primary 20 minutes of the sport, Mark Fanning stored flicking out the ball to Kevin Foley, the Wexford sweeper, whereas the Kilkenny ahead line all fell again.
Dropping that deep from the opposition has by no means been a Kilkenny factor. The closest to it at occasions would have been to retreat possibly about 30 yards from aim and to let somebody within the opposition full-back line obtain the puck-out earlier than pouncing on him however this was a distinct degree. This was principally giving the ball to Foley and leaving it as much as him what to do with it.
It occurred at two completely different phases within the recreation. It was their huge tactic for the primary quarter of the sport nevertheless it didn’t work. Foley’s distribution was good and Wexford pieced collectively possession fairly properly. They ran the ball into good areas and so they had been in a position to release their shooters, particularly Lee Chin and Rory O’Connor. At the primary water break, Wexford led 0-8 to 0-6.
But by then, Cody was already making strikes to place a halt to it. About two minutes earlier than the water break, you could possibly see him summoning Adrian Mullen over in direction of him on the sideline. The message was clear – Mullen went again out on to the pitch making pushing hand gestures to the remainder of the ahead line. Push up, lads.
And in the event that they didn’t get the message then, they positively had it by the point the water break was over. For Fanning’s first puck-out after it, Kilkenny had been again to their extra acquainted setup and Wexford hit their first lengthy puck-out of the day.
Just as a result of one thing doesn’t work doesn’t imply it wasn’t a good suggestion. I favored seeing them strive one thing new, even when it didn’t come off. They had been compelled to do it once more in extra-time throughout Eoin Murphy’s sin-binning after they had been right down to 14 males and this time it truly labored fairly properly.
Partly this was right down to the truth that Wexford had been visibly tiring. But additionally, Kilkenny didn’t simply retreat this time, they packed the center channel as properly. Combine that with Wexford’s exhaustion and it shut down all of the operating alleys that had existed earlier than. It meant that Chin and O’Connor weren’t getting the identical high quality of ball and the Wexford strikes had been breaking down loads earlier. Kilkenny had discovered on their toes and confirmed their versatility.
The different small factor we noticed from Cody that he often doesn’t actually trouble with was a dummy staff. I’ve seen it occur earlier than, possibly for an All-Ireland semi-final replay six days after a drawn recreation, the place the staff has to go to the printers early within the week and no person expects both staff to line out as named anyway as a result of all the pieces is completed in such a rush. But for the primary recreation of the yr? I doubt if Kilkenny have ever named a staff after which made three modifications to it by throw-in time.
Even the late announcement of the staff was very unKilkenny. My cellphone beeped at 9.31pm on Friday night time with a textual content from the Kilkenny Supporters’ Club, naming the staff for a recreation that was taking place lower than 24 hours later. Again, it’s not like them – the staff was given to the gamers at coaching on Thursday night time.
Small little modifications like that may not quantity to very a lot. Dummy groups are hardly something new within the recreation, neither is ready till late the night time earlier than a recreation to launch it to the general public. But if Cody is deciding in any case this time to not present his hand earlier than he has to, I believe that’s an attention-grabbing improvement.
On the pitch, it seems to be like TJ Reid will spend extra time inside than outdoors, conserving him nearer to aim. Maybe there’s a altering of the guard additionally. Paul Murphy and Colin Fennelly are now not there. Cillian Buckley, Joey Holden, Conor Fogarty, Walter Walsh and Richie Hogan should not beginning. Has Brian moved to a youthful staff, favouring the hyperlinks of Richie Leahy, Tommy Walsh, Alan Murphy and Darragh Corcoran? It’s positively value maintaining a tally of.
Saying that, there’s nonetheless loads of the outdated Kilkenny on present too. It was by no means summed up higher than by Cody after the match when he stated, “The turning point was the sheer refusal of our players to lie down or to stop and to never say the game was gone and to keep fighting and fighting and fighting.” That is the given with Brian and Kilkenny.
You can assure that can be there for the subsequent day, as a lot as you may assure Brian can be carrying a black and amber face masks. He is his personal man, however he doesn’t flinch one bit in demanding that effort, drive and fireplace day-after-day you exit.
He doesn’t provide the selection between working actually arduous and going by way of the motions. That will not be up for debate or query. Of course, Brian at all times emphasises the significance of the bench and panel, and this was evident on Sunday. He doesn’t grasp round both, as we noticed with modifications at half-time.
All in all, Kilkenny bought 1-9 from his subs, which was a huge effect. Walter Walsh was the important thing man off the bench, not simply with 1-1 scored but in addition his work charge, positioning and turnovers at key occasions.
As at all times – though it’s by no means actually spoken about – Kilkenny had been a well-conditioned staff and had the higher health ranges and freshness. A whole lot of key Wexford guys flagged in additional time and a few needed to come off, like Chin as a result of cramp.
All in all, it’s not the identical outdated Kilkenny. The modifications may solely be small however they’re constructed on an outdated template that has labored previously. I believe it units them up in a extremely good place.
As for Galway, they had been lacklustre and unfocused. They took Dublin without any consideration and they didn’t play with the required degree of labor charge, software and angle. For that they bought burnt alive by a hungrier Dublin staff who sized them up and reduce them down.
This had a stench of Galway of outdated from them; pre-2017 Galway. I hope it’s only a blip, as a result of there isn’t a doubt they’ve the panel and gamers to win this yr’s All-Ireland. But severe questions must be requested inside that group.
It will not be acceptable to select and select once you put together correctly for a recreation. I’ve no downside with errors or errors however I’ve no time for lack of effort. Galway went by way of the motions – how did they suppose that was going to get it carried out?
When Conor Whelan bought the aim within the forty third minute and lowered the margin to some extent, the Galway all of us thought we knew ought to have discovered a technique to see out that recreation. That’s what good groups do: recognise they’re beneath par however nonetheless sense with a push of 1 or two huge gamers, this may be circled. All it will have taken was a few leaders to indicate the best way and others would comply with.
But apart from Whelan, no person else got here ahead. That is a positive signal that complacency had eaten them from the within out at this stage. Too many gamers assumed that they might determine it out, or that the sport would come to them. There’s a advantageous line between not panicking and never exhibiting sufficient urgency to show issues round and when you find yourself complacent, you fall the mistaken facet of that line.
I’ve seen this earlier than from Galway. They have it of their locker. But additionally they have males of substance who want to face up this week. Daithí Burke, Joe Canning, Gearóid McInerney, Whelan, the Mannions – they’re males of precept and I anticipate them to get issues going this week.
Some harsh phrases. Eye-to-eye stuff. Players-only conferences, no matter it takes. The job is to resolve why they had been so informal final weekend. They haven’t a lot time to show the ship however the excellent news is that their downside isn’t tactical. Maybe the odd positional or personnel change right here and there however actually it’s an angle change they want and you may flip that round within the house of 1 session.
I anticipate a response from Galway. They have an excessive amount of about them to exit like this.