John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts after all hurling championship games.
So John, how do you see the final going?
In the last week, I’ve gone through some of the previous games this year and I’ve effectively been looking to see where the games have been won and lost. When looking at the Leinster Final, I thought Kilkenny played within themselves and Galway played well below par. Galway have come on a lot since the Leinster final. This All Ireland is going to be a tactical affair and will be won and lost in the middle third of the field.
Where it’s going to be won and lost….
How Galway counter act the movement of Richie Hogan and the positioning of TJ Reid could ultimely decide this final. It will be a tricky one! I also think if Galway have any chance of winning this game Joe Canning should be at number eleven. It gives them a very good chance of winning the final. It allows them to go at Kilkenny. If you look back at the Leinster Final, Joe Canning was bottled up by Joey Holden. He had a very good game on him that day. Holden has surprised me and alot of people in the Kilkenny on how well he fitted into the full back position this year.
The positioning of TJ Reid in the full forward line is key. Ultimely TJ Reid is going to pose the same type of problem aerial wise as Seamus Callanan did in the semi final. At the moment, he is one of the favourites to win hurler of the year and it will come down to him if Kilkenny are going to get over the line. Another player that Galway will fight to put the shackles on is Killian Buckley. He had 27 plays against Waterford and had huge game in the semi final. Anthony Cunningham will have to try keep him quiet!
Will the game be a close contest?
It’s going to be a very close game and it’s going to be a 1 to 3 point margin. If you were to ask me for a prediction, I would give a hesitant vote for Kilkenny but I wouldn’t be as confident going for Kilkenny as I would have been in previous years. It’s going to come down to how the young players from Galway are going to take on the game on the day. I think Galway and Anthony Cunningham will look for a big game out of Jason Flynn, Conor Whelan and Cathal Mannion on the day.
What part will Cody play in this final?
All of the previous finals Cody has played a blinder. You go back to 2012 replay, out of know where he brought in Walter Walsh who had a man of the match performance. Last year, who would have thought in the replay he would have taken off Richie Hogan at a crucial stage of the game and that too proved to be the right call. Cody been Cody on All Ireland Day seems to always get it right. You know what I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d spring Richie Power at the weekend. He is back and has played in what I’m hearing a ‘A’ V ‘B’ game in Kilkenny and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he started the game or use him in the final.
Will the bench be a big part in the final 20 minutes and if so who has the upper hand?
I would have said in previous years, that Kilkenny’s bench was nearly seen as the second best team in the country. I don’t think that Brian Cody has that luxury anymore. If you look at the Waterford game he didn’t make a change until the 66 minute where he brought on John Power. That’s very unlike Cody. He either doesn’t have the players on the bench or he doesn’t trust them but I think at the weekend he will use Richie Power and possibly Mark Kelly and Lester Ryan.
For me though, Galway have a better bench. If you look at the likes of Padraig Brehony and Shane Maloney that came on to get the winning score the last day and then you’ve a awful lot of experience with Fergal Moore, David Collins and Niall Healy. Galway do have a couple of lads that they can bring on and make an impact. Galway have the upper hand in regards to their personnel on the bench.
All in all, I’m really looking forward to watching this almighty battle that lies ahead this Sunday!