Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Final - Live in the clubhouse

posted 5 Jul 2013, 09:22 by Skerries Harps   [ updated 6 Jul 2013, 23:24 ]
Dublin v Galway, Croke Park, 4pm but the Clubhouse will be open from 2pm Sunday the 7th of July

For more reasons than one, Sunday's Leinster Hurling Championship final between Dublin and Galway is a novel pairing.

For a start, it's the first Leinster final not to feature Kilkenny since 2004, when Wexford and Offaly contested the provincial decider. That remarkable statistic is a reminder of just how dominant Kilkenny have been in their province over the last decade.

It's also the first ever Leinster final between Dublin and Galway, as the Tribesmen played Kilkenny in both their previous final appearances since joining the Leinster Championship in 2009

As well as all that, it's a rare thing for Galway and Dublin to meet in the championship at all. Although their last meeting was only two years ago in 2011, that was their first championship clash in 70 years. For two blue-bloods of the game, their paths have barely crossed in the modern era.

That meeting two years ago was in the Leinster semi-final. Dublin won 0-19 to 2-7, with Paul Ryan striking 0-13 in a display of outstanding marksmanship from placed balls. Dublin went on to reach the All-Ireland semi-final that year, but things have changed considerably for both counties since that summer.

Galway of course, won last year's Leinster title under new manager Anthony Cunningham and came within a whisker of defeating Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final. Dublin had a disastrous year in 2012, but based on the two sides' performances so far this season, there doesn't look to be much separating them at the moment.

Dublin had a lot to prove at the start of the season, and they've already proved plenty. Having defeated Wexford after a replay in the Leinster quarter-final, they went one better last Saturday when they recorded a first championship victory over Kilkenny in 71 years.

That thrilling result was also achieved after a replay, meaning this will be Dublin's fifth championship game in five weekends. Dublin captain Johnny McCaffrey considered the prospect of tiredness being an issue for Dublin in an interview earlier this week.

"It's just about getting ourselves right mentally and physically," he said. "There's an awful lot of tired bodies. We've to make sure we get ourselves physically right to produce the performance - because if we don't produce the performance, then Galway will rip us apart. We've got to be ready for that."

Whereas Dublin have already played four championship games in 2013, Galway have played just one - the 2-17 to 1-13 win over Laois in the semi-final on June 16. That was far from a vintage performance from a rusty looking Galway, but their selector Mattie Kenny believes the Tribesmen are capable of performing against Dublin this weekend.

"We're in a Leinster final, our aim is to go up to Dublin and give a very good performance. We think we're in a good position to give that performance, to take the Galway game to Croke Park. If we deliver that performance, the result can look after itself," he said.

Galway are of course, the reigning Leinster champions, but it is 52 years since Dublin last got their hands on the Bob O'Keeffe Cup, all the way back in 1961.