By Kevin Regan
If ever there was a carbon copy of a previous game, then Kilkenny’s Leinster Title win over Galway yesterday was just that.
Last September in the All Ireland Final, Galway dominated proceedings in the first half. They also led by three points at the break but collapsed in the second half, which is exactly what they did yesterday.
However, it’s about time people start giving Kilkenny credit for imposing themselves on the opposition and suffocating the life out of them rather than seeing it as a collapse at the hands of the best in the business.
The fact of the matter is that Kilkenny simply do not panic when they are under the cosh and once again that was evident yesterday.
Galway hurled like demons in the first half and dominated for long spells, but the key thing here is that Kilkenny stayed in the game during this barren spell and managed to go in just three points down at the break.
There’s not too many teams that can absorb that kind of pressure and still remain in the game, and Galway are a prime example of this because when the boot was on the other foot they simply couldn’t stand the heat.
In Gaelic Games we all know that you have to be in great shape physically, but its equally as important to be in the right state of mind and to be in a position to deal with adversity when it arrives in the heat of battle.
Yesterday Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan ran riot during a blistering opening half for Galway and the Kilkenny Full Back line was pulled and dragged all over the place with the young duo knocking over six points from play.
This could potentially destroy a defender mentally, but yesterday Paul Murphy, Joey Holden and Robert Lennon dusted themselves down at half time, came out like men possessed in the second half and stifled the Galway attack on so many occasions.
Kilkenny are so tough to break down physically, but their mental strength is what sets them apart from the chasing pack as they simply just don’t take no for an answer.
Super Sub Richie Hogan
Wow! What a performance this man produced on his introduction yesterday. It’s not often that you see a half time substitute come on to score five points from play, but yesterday the Danesfort man done just that.
Richie added a new dimension to the Kilkenny attack yesterday and was simply unmarkable at Full Forward, dismissing both Padraic Mannion and John Hanbury.
The amazing thing is that Richie is just back from a hand injury and it was also reported that he had pulled his hamstring in the build up to the game, so just imagine what he is capable of for the rest of the summer.
We have seen it for years now where a player steps up to the mark and grabs his opportunity with open arms and this year it’s most definitely Jonjo Farrell.
In the Dublin game Jonjo finished with 1-5 from play so it was expected that Galway would put the squeeze on him.
However they couldn’t contain Farrell and he notched another 1-4 from play, and 2-9 from play in two games is a serious tally for a player who has just cut his teeth at this level of Hurling.
There may have been a time where Jonjo may have felt his chance would never come having been part of the extended panel for a long time, but perseverance is a key factor in sport and great credit must go to Farrell for hanging in there.