All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship: Main Talking Points

Form line created after this weekend’s SHC fixture

It was provincial joy for Kilkenny and Limerick while the championship hopes of Cork and Wexford were extinguished. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects on the key talking points from this past weekend.

Tony Kelly inspires Clare (again) to victory:

Tony Kelly is a lock for an All Star and has to be in prime position to win HOTY at this time. Clare have been indebted to the Ballyea clubman for his standout performances in this championship season. His 1-15 out of his side’s 1-21 against Wexford speaks volumes and three of those points were immaculate scores.

His goal coming from super setup play from Shane O’Donnell. There was no question that it would be a goal. Wexford could not get near him, so the question now for Waterford management is how do they stop the Clare talisman?

We will find out this Saturday. If Waterford stifle Kelly, they have a super chance of winning this quarter final matchup.

Wexford meekly exit the championship:

This was supposed to be a potentially superb championship for Wexford. They were so close last season in the All-Ireland semi-final to advancing to the final. The way that Fitzgerald and Bulfin setup their team defensively appeared to suit this winter championship.

However, Wexford looked flat. This side looked one paced. The question is whether the squad were burned out due to excessive training sessions. They looked short on ideas and energy. When Clare rattled back with physicality, there was no response.

Thirteen-point loss to Galway. Seven-point loss to Clare. It is a poor championship return. Does Davy Fitzgerald look to take this side on next season? Is fresh ideas and training methods required? An interesting winter beckons.

Tipperary show their mettle to break Cork’s resistance:

The half-time score looked ominous for Liam Sheedy’s men. Two-point lead with a gale force wind at their backs. Cork looking better in their run game with Dalton and Horgan looking dangerous inside. The second half performance from Tipperary given the pressure they were under was superb.

Callanan became a focal point in the full forward line and suddenly good things followed. Forde rattled the net to open up a four point cushion but back came Cork with some superb long range scores. The game saw the Maher’s to the fore.

Ronan Maher at full back cleaned up ball and his brother Padraic was back to his best. Brendan Maher providing key distribution. Jake Morris showed the clinical difference between the two sides. A goal was on and he went for the throat and dispatched it to the back of the net. Cork had chances but made do with a point. Fine margins.

Cork’s work rate not in question in this fixture but squad depth was huge from Tipperary down the stretch, the same could not be said for Cork. A marquee win for Tipperary, they will have appreciated this tough contest. Shot selection was poor in the opening half but they got out of jail due to the inspired Michael Breen who scored 0-5 from play.

Kilkenny do not know when they are beaten:

All the attributes you associate with a Brian Cody Kilkenny side were in full view at GAA HQ last Saturday night. Five points down against a Galway side who were looking pretty dominant, the game was turned on its head with sixty seconds of magic from Kilkenny or sixty seconds of madness from Galway in the final quarter.

Richie Hogan’s goal sensational, the wrist work exceptional but Galway will be disappointed on how the full back line and Eanna Murphy dealt with the ball in. Murphy coming out lacked conviction. Kilkenny smelled blood and another ball in saw TJ Reid score a goal.

When you consider the foul committed by Huw Lawlor in the opening period against Niall Burke, it showed game management and taking one for the team. On the other hand, Galway’s full back line were far too passive and did not look to take Reid down in a similar fashion for the Kilkenny second goal.

Galway went in front soon after, but the momentum had swung in Kilkenny’s favor. Hogan imperious. TJ and Richie Reid burst into life in the closing stages. A superb win for Kilkenny given their struggles in the final. Cody relentless on the sideline hauling off Colin Fennelly and Walter Walsh. Richie Reid cameo superb coming off the bench.

Galway regroup required:

The Galway video analysis of this Leinster SHC final will be an interesting affair. Galway were the better side for long periods but soft free concessions in the opening period kept Kilkenny in touch and then that sixty second goal blitz from Kilkenny will be reviewed and addressed.

The inside full forward line of Concannon and Whelan were dangerous when they got good ball in. Goal chances were created. Jason Flynn effort in the second half was a big moment as a goal then could have opened the game wide open. Niall Burke’s run thwarted by Lawlor, a clear goal chance was on.

The defensive side of Galway will need to improve. Eanna Murphy in goals looked solid until the opening goal. Why he decided to come out for the ball is one question but his attempt to deal with the situation thereafter was poor and more concerning.

His distribution after the second goal was route one as his measured distribution approach went out the window.

Shane O’Neill has to either keep the faith with his netminder or else look to James Skehill which is not what you want heading into an All-Ireland series. The corner backs were also exposed during the final so will be interesting if Aidan Harte comes into the lineup from the start this Saturday.

Several open questions for Galway. The Wexford form line has ultimately flattered the side given Wexford’s struggles last weekend. Tipperary will relish the opportunity to face Galway in Limerick.

Water breaks the tale of the Munster SHC final:

This Munster SHC final was an interesting affair. 0-25 to 0-21 win for Limerick but Waterford provided yet more evidence of their resurgence with a rousing display.

This final and momentum was determined by the water breaks as Waterford started each half with gusto only for Limerick to show composure after the water break to wrestle initiative back in the contest.

Goal chances were at a premium as this final was decided in the middle third. Limerick’s run game had sporadic success as Waterford’s work rate and pressure without the sliothar spooked Limerick at different stages. The middle third exchanges were incredibly physical.

With the game in the balance, it was Limerick’s sub bench which won this contest. Seamus Flanagan comes on and immediately puts a point over. Adrian Breen likewise. David Dempsey running lines causing Waterford plenty of issues. Graeme Mulcahy chipped in with some vital scores down the stretch too.

Waterford apart from Patrick Curran had no impact off the bench as Shane Bennett tried to win the final on his own. Austin Gleeson’s influence waned as the game progressed. How Waterford management involve Gleeson this Saturday will be key to victory over Clare?

Liam Cahill and Michael Bevans have transformed Waterford. Their teamwork, work rate and skill set were very impressive yesterday, but they need more from their inside full forward line.

Hutchinson started well but faded. Bennett was the standout forward, but the forward line unit need to step up further. Fives’ injury looks serious, a big loss for the full back line if the worse fears are concerned. Squad depth issues may be exposed. Six day regroup is a tall order for Waterford.

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