It was hell for leather in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship for five weekends in a row and now, after a short break, we’re set for an epic showdown between Galway and Kilkenny in the final at Croke Park on Sunday.
The reigning Leinster and All-Ireland Champions have never won the Bob O’Keeffe Cup two years in a row and have only once defeated Kilkenny in the final, back in 2012.
The Cats got the upper hand on Galway in the provincial finals in 2010, 2015 and 2016 but this year is different because, in the new-look format, they’ve already clashed in the championship.
Galway convincingly won that duel at Pearse Stadium at the end of May by 1-22 to 2-11 and so are favourites to triumph again on Sunday.
Micheal Donoghue’s side have carried their 2017 form into this championship campaign, with their current attacking All-Stars Joe Canning, Conor Cooney and Conor Whelan in blistering form.
Their scoring difference of +30 after five games tells its own tale, although they haven’t developed their goal-scoring prowess after raising five green flags in the first round versus Offaly, and Joe Canning’s penalty was the only shot that beat Eoin Murphy when the counties last met.
Kilkenny, as has come to be expected under Brian Cody, battled their way through the campaign and salvaged a couple of victories which earned them another shot at the title.
Dublin almost had them beaten in the first round before a Liam Blanchfield goal helped secure a two point victory. And they came storming back to defeat Wexford in Round 5 after falling nine points behind early in the second half, with TJ Reid to the fore once more.
That’s why Kilkenny will relish another crack at Galway – the hurling season is about to reignite again and Croke Park at 4pm on Sunday will be an exciting place.
Here’s a recap of the table from the Leinster round-robin and all the results to date:
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round-Robin
Round 1: Galway 5-18, Offaly 2-15; Kilkenny 1-24, Dublin 3-16
Round 2: Kilkenny 2-19, Offaly 1-13; Wexford 0-22, Dublin 2-14
Round 3: Wexford 5-24, Offaly 2-9; Galway 1-22, Kilkenny 2-11
Round 4: Galway 1-23 Wexford 0-17; Dublin 2-24 Offaly 0-13
Round 5: Galway 0-26 Dublin 2-19; Kilkenny 0-22 Wexford 1-18