Leinster Senior Hurling Final
Reigning champions Galway will take to the field this weekend, hoping to win back to back Leinster titles. Standing in their way will be Kilkenny. After their uncharacteristic demise last year, the Cats are back and now seek to win their 72nd Leinster Senior Hurling title.
A brand new format was introduced to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship this year and it is fair to say that it has been a resounding success. It has given us so many twists and turns and the competition has been tougher than ever.
Offaly finished bottom of the table after the round-robin stages of the Leinster Championship and will be relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup next year. Dublin are safe and will play in the Leinster Championship next year but they are officially out of the running for the Liam MacCarthy Cup this year.
Wexford had a good campaign and finished in third place in the table rankings. This means that they will now go through to the All-Ireland Preliminary Quarter Finals where they will play the runners-up of the Joe McDonagh Cup, which will be either Carlow or Westmeath.
Now, Galway and Kilkenny are left standing and will go head to head this Sunday in Croke Park.
Who will be crowned Leinster Champions?
Two years ago, these two sides met each other in the Leinster Final and it was Kilkenny that lifted the Bob O’Keeffe Cup on the steps of the Hogan Stand. The Cats won that match well with a 1-26 to 0-22 win. However, Galway will enter this match as reigning champions as they beat Wexford last year to win the Leinster title.
And after the Tribesmen’s performance in the round-robin stages of the Leinster Championship, there looks to be no stopping them. They won every game they played, including their match against Kilkenny.
Galway overcame The Cats 1-22 to 2-11 in Pearse Stadium and they looked impressive with their strong defensive structure. Amazingly in that match, Galway hindered Kilkenny so much, they only managed to score 1-2 from play. Brian Cody himself admitted that is was unusual for his team to score so little from play.
Perhaps this is an area that Kilkenny will need to work on now when they face Galway again this weekend. How can they break down such a strong and physical team so they can tally up crucial scores that they will need?
For Galway, they must be feeling confident heading into this match. They have an unbeaten record for the Championship so far and know how to beat a team like Kilkenny.
TJ Reid has been pivotal for Kilkenny this year. He is the third top scorer of the Championship for 2018, behind Tipperary’s Jason Forde and Clare’s Peter Duggan. He has hit a massive 2-37 this season so far, it will be interesting to see how he performs this Sunday.
For Galway, Conor Whelan has shone this summer. He scored an opening goal in their match against Wexford. He is speedy with the ball but also has the accuracy to finish shots that he takes. Kilkenny will have him tightly marked this Sunday.
This match is too difficult to call, realistically it could either way. If you don’t want to miss a minute of the #StyleOfPlay action, the final will be broadcast on RTÉ this Sunday, with the puck in at 16:00.
Be sure to check out our blog next Monday where we will be bringing out the standout #StyleOfPlay moment of the week!