Tough opening, but roaring Cats might have won it in the end

KILKENNY may have been the ones who were caught on the line at the finish of Sunday’s epic All-Ireland hurling final, but at the break they would taken a draw if offered it.

KILKENNY may have been the ones who were caught on the line at the finish of Sunday’s epic All-Ireland hurling final, but at the break they would taken a draw if offered it.

The Cats, according to softy spoken captain, Eoin Larkin, struggled to find their game during the opening period and they knew they were facing defeat unless they picked things up dramatically afterwards.

“At half-time we would have been happy to get a draw,” Larkin smiled when we spoke in the dressing-room after the game. “We weren’t playing particularly well. When you get in front, you like to stay in front, but winning wasn’t meant to be so now we have another big day out in Croke Park in three weeks time.

Get on with job

“We will just have to get on with the job. It was nip-and-tuck the whole way during the second half and the result could have gone either way, but we are delighted to get another chance at winning the title. We didn’t play that well generally, I suppose. We were disappointed at half-time. We upped things in the second half. With a couple of breaks here and there we could have won.”

And with a mischievous smile on his face, he added: “With a couple of breaks here and there we could have lost it too. We have to be happy enough to have another chance.”

Galway, he continued, were powerful at picking up the breaking ball during the game. It was very hard to get on the breaking ball against them. They seem to be batting everything down on and then picking up the breaks.

“We will have to work on something during the next three weeks to counteract that,” he suggested.

Would there be a chance that some of the players might get tired, we asked?

“Why would you get tired being involved in something like this,” the James Stephens man replied. “This is what you play inter-county hurling for, to play in All-Ireland finals. We are getting the chance to play in two in the one year so that is great.

Want to be winning

“Still, you would want to be winning it. The next day stands for nothing different. For us it is all about winning that 34th title. That is the aim every year. It changes nothing that we drew today.

“We will come to Croke Park in three weeks time with the same goal again, to win the title. It will be another tough day, but where else would you want to be?”

Ballyhale Shamrocks star, T.J. Reid suggested the crowding tactics employed by Galway were like those used by the Donegal footballers last year. They swarm back and pack their half-back line.

“We have to regroup. We didn’t lose,” he said. “We have an All-Ireland final to try and win in three weeks time.”

He said he would be looking forward to the replay, because it was a wonderful opportunity to play against a team so driven and well prepared as Galway.

“That is sport,” he said of the intensity of the exchanges and how things turned out. “No one saw this happening. I haven’t a clue when there was a draw last in the All-Ireland final. People who came to the game certainly got their money’s worth.”