So Championship 2015 is well underway, with Limerick taking the first of the spoils in Munster and Dublin and Galway giving us another day out in Leinster. Both games were similar, very close and a slow burn. We’ve had drama with Patrick Donnellan’s sending off and questions being raised over the new advantage rule. However, there were more pressing issues that have kept people talking lately…
1. Will Clare get that elusive win?
So another year has gone by, and Claire have failed to mount a serious challenge in the Munster championship. They are out of the frame now and will have to go on a ‘Discover Ireland’ qualifier route. They are no strangers to it, in fact they went all the way in 2013, through the back door. Clare are a young team, and armed with a plan and hunger are still seriously dangerous. The question however, is whether or not their plan is effective enough to win another All Ireland, is it adaptable enough to deal with whatever other teams throw at them? Another issue is injuries, Clare have worries over vital players such as Conor McGrath and Conor Ryan, and are very much reliant on the services of Tony Kelly and Shane O’ Donnell to cause defenses trouble, if they can iron out these problems, they could find themselves hurling in August and September. They only lost their last two games by a point so they are not too far away.
2. Where are Galway?
It is the question that has preceded hurling championships for the last decade or so, and there is no sign of it going away anytime soon . Yesterday was a perfect example of the enigmatic nature of the Tribesman. The Sunday Game panel brought up the view that hurling people have given up trying to assess Galway, that they were too inconsistent, and that Dublin ,who were also accused of the same charge, were fancied to beat them. Low and behold though, Galway storm out of the traps, all guns blazing and gave a solid performance. Now it was nowhere near what they are capable of, but they showed up and were merited a draw. A new development was the dismissal of the old tale that Galway without Joe Canning were hollow. Joe had perhaps his worst performance in a Galway shirt yesterday, and while that is unlikely to happen again. it did at least allow the likes of Joe Cooney and Cathal Mannion to flourish. Galway are more than a one trick pony, and they proved that yesterday, but they are also at a crossroads, do they build on yesterday and try and mount a serious challenge on their adopted province?, or do they descend into the wilderness again? As always, it’s impossible to know…
3. Waterford’s prospects.
I can only imagine the week Waterford fans had at the beginning of May, The Sunday saw the county claim a first League title since 2007, the spirits were high, a September appearance was beginning to look more than a pipe dream, and then….news that Padraic Mahony, Waterford’s distinguished free-taker and talisman broke his leg in a club match. A massive blow for not just his club, but possibly his county. Or is it? Now there is no doubt he will be missed. Waterford had shown throughout their league campaign that the next generation is just as talented as the previous one, Players such as Tadhg De Burca, Shane Bennett and Austin Gleeson are exciting new players who have brought freshness and vitality into the squad. Any team that wants to be successful needs these players but also needs ready replacements should anything happen. For example, in his later years, if Henry Shefflin was injured, Brian Cody made sure his absence wasn’t detrimental to the panel by having Tj Reid as an automatic replacement. In order to have a strong squad, even your best players must be indispensable. Waterford will need to do the same in the absence of Mahony, which they are well capable of doing.