Galway’s League win puts things into perspective

In the Gaelic Grounds yesterday afternoon, the Galway hurlers put the reigning All-Ireland Champions Tipperary to the sword comfortably winning 3-21 to 0-14. The tribesmen showed a physical dominance that many had become accustomed to seeing from the Premier county.

Tipperary were beaten in every line while Galway who scored a whopping 3-21 also had the luxury of hitting 17 wides. Imagine what the scoreline would have been like had their shooting be a little sharper?

Having spent their League campaign in division 1b, Galway were seen as a pushover for some ahead of their clash with Tipp. Furthermore, Galway failed to make it out of 1b, falling at the expense of Wexford, who Tipp brushed aside last weekend.

Galway had no intention of keeping to the script and rather went on to tear up the form book and dispatch Tipperary with ease. To use a boxing term, Tipp never laid a glove on their opponents. Their victory also brings up to interesting points.

1:What can be done to improve the League format?

Galway are Allianz League champions for 2017. Yet, they will hurl in Division 1b in 2018. They will face Limerick, Dublin, Offaly, Laois and Antrim. They will once again be fancied to reach division 1a. However, they were also expected to be promoted this year before a rejuvenated Wexford under Davy Fitz surged back to the top tier. While Limerick and Dublin should provide a test for the Tribesmen, the other three will hardly strike fear into them.

There is a marked divide in class in Division 1b. Galway are miles ahead of Laois, Offaly and Antrim as are Limerick and Dublin. The games involving Galway against any of the weaker three are not beneficial for either side, as demonstrated this year. It disheartens the weaker side and the lack of competition bores the stronger team.

Galway, Limerick and Dublin would benefit much more from competitive games against the likes of Kilkenny, Waterford and despite their lacklustre performance yesterday, Tipperary. Competitive games in Spring will never garner the same interest as the ones in Summer but as Kerry and Dublin proved in the football decider, league action can be of the highest quality.

The quarter finals of the League saw four teams from 1a and 1b square off. The only team to win their fixture was Tipperary, who faced an Offaly side that won a staggering 1 of their five League games and qualified due to their superior -39 points differential. Yes that a minus before the 39. Offaly began their League campaign with a 26 point trimming at the hands of Galway and were dispatched easily by Tipp in the quarters.

In the other three QF games, Wexford saw off Kilkenny, Galway beat Waterford and Limerick overcame Cork. This illustrates how the top teams in division 1b are as good as those in 1b but they suffer due to a backward league system.

Whilst, the opportunity for promotion and relegation certainly heighten standards, the layout of the system simply doesn’t give the lower teams a chance. Laois will never beat the likes of Galway, Limerick and Dublin, in one league campaign. They may beat one, but not the three.

There are nine hurling counties that are competitive with one another. Nine is admittedly an awkward number but something must be done to ensure these teams face each other in Spring, so that the interest for the Championship will begin with the League.

Galway’s League triumph also raises another argument,

2: Galway’s dismantling of Tipp puts Limerick performance into context

Galway dispatched Limerick easily in the Gaelic Grounds on Easter Sunday to set up the final clash against Tipp, 1-21 to 1-11. In truth, it never looked like Limerick were going to win the game, with Galway utterly dominant from start to finish. 1o points difference at the end seems like an unfair assessment of the game which could have been so much worse for Limerick.

Yet, after Tipp’s crumbling at the hands of the Westeners, are Limerick that far off the pace?

The games were similar in so many ways. Both sides were over ran by the Tribesmen, but both held out until the final 2o minutes until being swept aside. Not for a second did Galway look like being beaten in either game, illustrating a dominance we haven’t seen since the Kilkenny team of the first decade of the 2000’s.

Limerick were blasted for their performance against Galway last week. The spirit and fight associated with all Limerick sides of the past was well and truly absent from the players. Something that Limerick supporters were quick to highlight.

In the light of the league final though, it may be the case that Galway simply did not allow Limerick to fight. Yes Limerick could have done more to upset the Tribesmen, but Galway were operating a level way above Limerick. The Treaty men rallied and even reduced the gap to three mid way through the second half.

Galway simply shifted up the gears and notched a goal to put the lead back out to six. The simply always had Limerick at arms length.

If anything, Galway’s win yesterday proves that any team on their day can overcome anyone. Limerick are better as underdogs and they will certainly be heavy underdogs this summer, with Paddy Power having them as 6th favourites for the All-Ireland at 16/1.

However, should John Kiely get the players in the right mindset, there could be a positive Summer ahead of the Limerick faithful.

 

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Jack Neville

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