It has being a weird build up to this final for Hawkeye Sidekick; his county of birth (Limerick) vs. county of residence (Galway) this weekend and analyzing both sides, there looks precious little to separate either side. The verdict is as follows:
How Galway win this contest?
Expose Limerick final nerves early doors; look to pepper quick ball into the inside full forward line and test the Limerick full back line. Glynn on the edge of the square looks a massive threat.
Take Cian Lynch out of the game; sounds sinister but Galway will look to man mark the midfield talent out of the game, expect Coen to be on marking duties. If Coen can produce the same man marking performance as he did against Tony Kelly in the All Ireland Semi-Final replay, Galway are going to win this contest.
Clinical scoring rate; recent games has seen Galway’s attacking options waste some gilt edged opportunities, this has to improve this weekend in the final to keep Limerick at arm’s length.
Half Back Line dominance. Question marks on McInerney’s fitness at the time of this post and if included, Limerick will look to see how fit the Oranmore Maree club man is. All Ireland winning teams usually are associated with superb half back line units; Galway’s unit has being stellar this season again and more of the same form is required on Sunday.
How Limerick win this contest?
Negotiate the early exchanges: Galway with All Ireland final experience will look to ambush Limerick early with some early scores. Limerick and in particular the half-back line need to stand up strong in these exchanges; establish some early aerial battle wins and look to protect the likes of Mike Casey in the opening exchanges.
Goals win games: Limerick have created several keynote goal scoring chances in recent fixtures but lack of composure in front of goal has being a trend for the likes of Gillane and Flanagan. These players if given goal opportunities need to convert this weekend.
Get Cian Lynch into the game: If Limerick are to win this contest, then Cian Lynch will need to be a standout performer. Lynch will be given special attention from Galway but Lynch needs to be savvy to this; good first touch and quick distribution to colleagues. Limerick’s puck out strategy should look to create space for Lynch to establish a platform to impress.
The Bench: If Limerick can keep their composure and handle the occasion, the bench will play a pivotal role in the final quarter. The introduction of Casey, Dowling, Nash, O’Donoghue, Ryan, Hickey are key squad assets and their cameos should bring the side over the line if the game is in the melting pot. Galway have struggled to identify anyone off the bench apart from Niall Burke, Jason Flynn, Sean Loftus and Davy Glennon which limits their hand.
Slight edge for Galway on this fixture. The opening exchanges are going to be absolutely key. I question how Limerick will handle the occasion? Galway will look to bully and impose their game plan early doors and Limerick’s reaction to this will be crucial. The central attacking axis for Galway worries me from a Limerick perspective. Canning and Glynn could collectively cause serious issues if given time and space.
For Limerick to win, it is going to be a come from behind effort coming into the final quarter. If the deficit is not too big (five / six points), the squad depth options will prove crucial. Limerick’s full forward line can test this Galway full back line if given accurate ball in. Dowling down the stretch could be the key figure as Galway start to wane.
However until you beat the champions, you are not favorites in my eyes and for this I edge the final to Galway right now. They are the reigning champions, they deserve the respect and favorites tag given their last two seasons of work.
Limerick need to play without fear and play with pace and mobility. The final should be embraced by players and management. The fans lucky enough to get tickets will need to support the side and not be too hard on them when Galway have periods of dominance.
No regrets from Limerick should be the mantra; if the Limerick players and management can come off the pitch with this key point accomplished, Liam McCarthy will be heading to Shannonside.