One factor which will play a major role on Sunday in the All-Ireland final between Galway and Kilkenny is the weather.
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Kilkenny are a physical outfit who have shown that they can adapt to all conditions – Galway on the other hand play a specific style which is more suited to a dry fast day. Met Eireann are predicting quite a warm day for Eastern Leinster with hazy sunny spells ensuring temperatures reach as high as 20 degrees. These conditions will suit the Galway team as it allows them to get quick ball into their danger man Damian Hayes, Conor Cooney and Joe Canning.
Last time out the Galway back six, along with midfielders Iarla Tannian and Andy Smith applied a ferocious amount of intensity on their Leinster counterparts, this hard work coupled with a expertly executed gameplan allowed the Tribesmen to isolate their scoring threats inside and this is where a large majority of their scores came from.
Kilkenny will relish Sunday’s encounter irrespective of the conditions. They have such a versatile unit that they will be able to adapt to whatever mother nature has to offer. Against Dublin in June, Kilkenny gave us an exhibition of hurling in weather that could only be described as dire. The conditions had no effect on their first touch, their execution or their workrate. If the weather pans out as expected and conditions are clear, Kilkenny have the tools to play their usual physical game with players such as Jackie Tyrrell, Paul Murphy and Brian Hogan leading the charge. What makes Kilkenny great is that they can mix this physicality with the skill and technique of Messrs Shefflin, TJ Reid and Eoin Larkin to name but a few.
It may not be the deciding factor on where Liam McCarthy will rest his head on Sunday evening, but the weather could be what tips the balance. If, as so often happens, our weather predictors have got it wrong and the game is played in a downpour it will be difficult to look past a Kilkenny victory. It is hard enough to win your first All Ireland, but to come out the right side of a dogfight against this Kilkenny team is next to impossible.
For Galway to upset the odds and emerge victorious they need a lot to go their way, but most importantly they need a dry day, allowing their young pretenders to express themselves on the biggest stage of all. Four of the Galway attack are 22 or younger – a dry pitch will give these youngsters the opportunity to stretch their legs and get a run on their ageing counterparts. And if this happens and they can stretch the Kilkenny rearguard, the Tribesmen may achieve the most unlikely miracle of all.