When Kilkenny looks back on their opening National Hurling League game against Galway in Pearse Stadium they will rue a number of missed scoring opportunities from play and frees during the second half.
However, in truth the Cats were chasing the game from an early stage and particularly from the end of the first quarter when the Westerners scored a brace of goals. Given the excitement generated by the sides last year we hoped for a repeat on Sunday.
In the end fnas had to settle for sporadic bouts of real competitive fare. How often do we hear the comment that goals win games? It aptly describes Sunday’s Salthill clash.
I doubt if the Kilkenny mentors will be happy at the concession of the three goals. Unfortunately for the Cats there were similarities with some of the goals conceded against the same opposition last year.
Area to be addressed
High dropping balls into the heart of the Kilkenny defence again caused problems. This is one area of Kilkenny’s game which I expect will be addressed in the weeks ahead.
Last year Galway played Joe Canning in a roving role and it seems they intent to deploy their talisman similarly this year. The Portumna player was hugely influential in setting up the three goals, delivering inch perfect passes to his attack.
Canning’s move out the field left just two inside Galway forwards and they made good use of the open space. Kilkenny played its best hurling during the second quarter when they responded superbly to the concession of the two Galway goals.
Richie Power and Lester Ryan started dominating midfield and all over the pitch the Kilkenny work rate improved. More importantly, the defence which was rocked by the two goals got to grips with the Galway attack as they slowly reduced the Westerners lead.
In hindsight the third Galway goal was to prove crucial. It was again set up by Joe Canning, but Kilkenny will not be happy at the way Damien Hayes rounded two defenders to score. Having conceded three first half goals, Kilkenny was still in a good position at the interval when trailing by just three points.
Both teams scored seven points each in the second half, but Kilkenny should have scored at least three more. In tight games, as this was, all chances must be converted and Kilkenny’s inaccuracy in the second half was ultimately its undoing.
Not surprisingly for an opening League encounter both sides looked a little ring-rusty, but that will be rectified over the coming weeks as the training is stepped up and the outdoor hurling commences.
With Kilkenny and Tipperary losing their opening round games, their clash in Semple Stadium on Sunday week now takes on added significance. A second loss for either side will not help their 2013 League ambitions.