Both sides saw positives in thriller

Kilkenny were somewhat annoyed that they lost their grip on Sunday’s game and allowed Galway back for a late, late draw but they will pick the positives from the performance and drive on, writes John Knox.

Kilkenny were somewhat annoyed that they lost their grip on Sunday’s game and allowed Galway back for a late, late draw but they will pick the positives from the performance and drive on, writes John Knox.

“We will turn this experience into a positive,” insisted Kilkenny selector/coach, Michael Dempsey when he reflected on the near miss in Tullamore. “The replay is there to be played and won. You learn from what happened in this match.

“There is no point in crying over what happened, being disappointed and dropping the heads. We must be positive for the replay and take it on again, which we will do.”

Mr Dempsey said that when a team was nine or 10 points up with a short time to go, they would be expected to see the job through. However, the big thing was that Kilkenny were still in the championship.

“That is a good place to be,” he insisted. “Now we face a serious game next week again.”

When it was suggested that Galway’s approach was physical, he said the first half exchanges were physical and maybe that slowed down the momentum of the game.

“When things opened up in the second half we played much better,” he pointed out. “They were very physical. They took us on in the first half. When the game opened up it was better for us, but we fell asleep for whatever reason near the end.”

He insisted that Kilkenny will turn the experience into a positive.

“After the first round win we had over Offaly maybe people were expecting a lot from us. Then Galway’s performance against Laois left people wondering about them. Maybe Galway were dismissed by some and we were over rated by others.

“The reality is that Galway have always put it up to us. They are a serious team. We will need to be at our best on Saturday if we are to win.”

Galway manager, Anthony Cunningham admitted that they looked were dead and buried in the dying minutes. He couldn’t believe his side fell so far behind so quickly after Kilkenny went on a short scoring spree.

“They (Kilkenny) scored 1-2 or three and the next thing they were nine points up,” he said with surprise in his voice. “That was probably unfair as a reflection of the game generally, but the players showed tremendous character to come back.

“We were lucky to be honest, but it is only half-time now really. This result means nothing unless we win the replay. Kilkenny will be thinking the same way.”

He insisted there were huge positives in the game for the Tribesmen.

“The way we kept plugging away was terrific,” he insisted. “We spoke at half-time that there were openings in the Kilkenny defence. No doubt they will work on that the next day. We will work on keeping scores against us down.”

When asked did their average performance again Laois act as a spur, he said they didn’t put much heed in the matter. They just got on with their training.

“We will look at today’s game in the same light as the Laois one,” he revealed. “We will want to improve. That happens every day you go out.

“Kilkenny are a tremendous side. They are tremendous hurlers and they have been for so long. You saw Henry Shefflin getting the last score. It was tremendous.

“We have a young team and it got great experience against a very experienced outfit. This will help us.”

He felt Galway did well most of the way, but he was disappointed and surprised that things turned so quickly against them heading into the final straight.