Hayes warns Clare clash a 'very dangerous' game for Galway
By John Harrington
Former Galway hurler Damien Hayes has warned that Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Clare is a “very dangerous” game for the Tribesmen.
Hayes believes this Banner side are capable of brilliance on their day and have a cutting edge in attack that will seriously test the Galway defence.
“I expect and am hoping that Saturday is going to be a cracker,” said Hayes today at the launch of the EirGrid ‘Moments in Time’ competition.
“I feel this Clare team has something to prove and blew a Munster Championship. They didn't turn up at all in the second half. Then they performed well against Wexford.
“I think this is a very dangerous game for Galway. There's two different types of Clare team: the one that's absolutely brilliant and there's the Clare team that doesn't turn up.
“I actually think this is a very good Clare team and they have an awful lot of talent.
"I think the first 15 minutes of this game is going to be vital for the outcome of the winner but Clare must thunder into the game and that's the way it is.
“Shane O'Donnell is coming into a rich vein of form, John Conlon has 1-22 scored from play, Tony Kelly has 1-20 scored from play and two points scored from the 65.'
“I think it's going to be a dangerous game but it'll be interesting to see what game plan Clare will come with. Are they going to puck the ball long? Everyone knows that Galway drop back.
"I would love to see them return to their running game and take them on and play to their strengths. I hope it's going to be a cracking game. I know I'm a Galway man but you still love to go and say, 'Jesus that was a great game.'"
Hayes doesn’t expect there will be any complacency in the Galway camp because they got “a wake-up call” in the drawn Leinster SHC Final against Kilkenny.
And he believes they’re a better team now than when they won last year’s All-Ireland SHC Final.
"I think Johnny Glynn has definitely added to it”, said Hayes. “He's home more and I think now he's a target man at 14, he's an unbelievable team player.
“I feel Johnny, he gets the ball and his awareness to pop the pass has been brilliant. I think Conor Whelan is brilliant, he reminds me so much of Joe Cooney and Lar Corbett, that type of a player.
“I think Galway are so settled, I think Daithi Burke is unbelievable. I predicted he's going to get another All-Star this year and he's going for his fourth All-Star in-a-row. Who is the last full-back to do that?
"The man is just brilliant so I think Galway have just pushed on again.
“I just think Galway are a very mature team and they should have enough to beat Clare but I think it's a dangerous game.
“Alarm bells should be going for Galway to going into this game with caution but I do expect Galway to win. I'm hoping that it's going to be an absolute cracking game."
Galway ended decades of disappointment last year when they won their first All-Ireland Championship since 1988, and now Hayes believes this team is primed to leave a lasting legacy by winning plenty more silverware before they’re finished.
"I think Micheál Donoghue has used about 19 players in the last two years at the business end of the season,” said Hayes. “There's basically the same team this year only that James Skehill has come in.
“They then have the rotation of Niall Burke in, Jonathan Glynn in. Now they've Conor Cooney gone out because of form and it's basically the same and you can say what you like but you can't beat a settled set-up.
"The six backs are the exact same for almost the last three years now. The midfield pairing was formed against Clare two seasons ago so they're very settled and a very mature bunch.
“I think Galway know that this is their opportunity to make hay, that they've a group of players here that are mature enough to go on and it's Galway's All-Ireland to lose. I'm not the only saying this now, I said it last year, I was one of the people who said Galway are good enough to win the All-Ireland three years ago.
"I knew the players were there and if things had worked out, Galway could be going for four All-Irelands in-a-row. But they didn't work out.
“Galway fell asleep against Kilkenny three years ago and Kilkenny won the All-Ireland. Two years ago, they lost to Tipperary by a point and they were ahead only for the unbelievable goal by Bubbles down the sideline.
“Last year they won the All-Ireland and this year...it's basically the same core of players. I think this is a very mature bunch of Galway players and I feel they can kick on and win a lot."