Mícheál Donoghue expects significant Kilkenny challenge
By Cian O'Connell
Galway chalked up four impressive Leinster Hurling Championship wins during the round robin series, but manager Micheal Donoghue expects a demanding Kilkenny challenge at Croke Park on Sunday.
It promises to be an interesting provincial decider at GAA headquarters, but Donoghue feels Kilkenny are primed to pose serious questions of the All Ireland champions' resolve.
Galway overcame Kilkenny at Pearse Stadium last month and the Clarinbridge native is adamant that another fascinating encounter looms.
"It was a big game for us in terms of it was the first one for us at home," Donoghue remarks about the Kilkenny triumph.
"As I said, we always put huge emphasis on our home games. No two games are the same anyway, that's definitely in the memory bank.
"Look, we have huge respect for them. They've been the standard bearers for so many years. We know that it's going to be a totally different game again on the first of July.
"In terms of ourselves it's just about preparing well over the next couple of weeks and being ready for a big challenge again."
Donoghue believes that Kilkenny will benefit hugely from the gritty manner of their dramatic triumph over Wexford.
"Yeah, I think so," Donoghue admits. "They came in as League champions, they have huge form behind them.
"Obviously the Wexford game was going to be massive down there and they put in a massive performance. Nine points down, they showed huge team spirit and just the desire to go on. So we know it's going to be a hard game."
During his tenure Donoghue has shown a real willingness to give emerging players an opportunity to shine, especially during the Allianz Hurling League.
That is vital for Galway going forward, but there is also an acceptance that the Tribesmen need to maintain the form currently being displayed.
"Yeah, I think so, but you've seen the last couple of weeks," Donoghue adds.
"You want to keep momentum, you want to keep going. With the league this year, reflecting back on it, when we had the team holiday we had to pull out of the Walsh Cup whereas last year it gave us an opportunity to look at more lads and earlier, we probably missed a bit of that early on.
"I know we still looked at a lot of lads, but maybe for some of the newer lads they would have gotten games earlier. It's something we'll definitely look at again for next year.
"I think you have to use that opportunity to give them the chance to get in with the group and just in terms of our own game-plans and whatever we want to - whatever we're trying to do - to get them in as quick as you can."