by on the 27th of April 2016

Irish Daily Star National League Division 1 Final Preview
Irish Daily Star National League Division 1 Final
Kilkenny vs Galway
Venue:  Semple Stadium, Thurles 1.30pm Referee: Cathal Egan (Cork)
The Kilkenny senior team will hope to secure there first Division one league title since 2014 when they take on Galway in Semple Stadium, Thurles at 1.30 pm on Sunday. The game acts as a curtain raiser for the National Hurling League Division one final between Waterford and Clare.
Kilkenny under the new management team of Ann Downey, Paddy Mullally, and Conor Phelan had a good league campaign. They began the league at home to Derry, and in a game played in tough weather conditions in Conahy, Kilkenny made no mistake when they recorded a convincing 5-09 to 0-01 point victory. In the second round Kilkenny entertained 2015 Intermediate All Ireland Champions Waterford in Piltown. Kilkenny put in a positive display and fought off a late Waterford charge to record there second victory of the campaign on a 3-16 to 3-07 score line.  Next up for the Cats was reigning Senior All Ireland champions and three in a row chasing Cork. In a tough tit for tat battle it was the Rebelettes who came out the right side of the scoreboard on a 0-11 points to 1-09 score line. This could be classed as a game that got away as Kilkenny had opportunities at the end of the game to clench a draw but were guilty of hitting some wasteful wides. Next up for Kilkenny in round four was a high flying Limerick side who ran through the league campaign undefeated to that point and recorded a impressive victory over Cork in the opening round. In a game played in tough weather conditions in Bruff, Kilkenny emerged victorious after a tough physical encounter on a 2-12 to 0-14 points score line. This victory set up a League semi final spot with Tipperary who finished second behind Galway in group one. In the semi final Tipperary who faced a thirty four point defeat to Kilkenny in the 2015 All Ireland Championship campaign were not fazed by the challenge in front of them and pushed Kilkenny right to the end and a late Jenny Grace forty five for the Premier county forced extra time. In the extra period goals from Denise Gaule and Julieann Malone in either half was the difference as Kilkenny progressed through to Sunday’s decider on a 2-13 to 0-15 point score line.
Galway similar to Kilkenny started 2016 under new management after All Ireland wining manager Tony Ward step aside. Under the stewardship of new manager Ollie Bergin, Galway ran through there League campaign undefeated. They began the campaign with an away victory over Tipperary 3-07 to 0-05. They backed up this victory with 0-12 to 0-05 away win over Dublin. In round three they entertained Offaly and recorded a 0-19 points to 1-10 victory. In round 4 they travelled to take on Wexford and recorded a convincing 1-13 to 1-08 victory. They secured safe passage through to the League semi finals with a 4-11 to 1-05 victory over Clare. In the league semi final they faced Limerick who defeated Cork after a playoff. In a tough hard fought encounter a injury time free from Niamh McGrath saw Galway shade home on a 1-11 to 0-13 points score line to secure Sunday’s shootout with old rivals Kilkenny.
This game has all the hallmarks of being a cracking contest but one that both sides will be wary of not showing there full hand as both sides must do it all again in round 4 of the All Ireland Championship campaign. Kilkenny will need to be wary of the Galway forward line who posted up some impressive score lines during the league campaign with Niamh McGrath, Niamh Kilkenny, and Molly Dunne processing a constant scoring threat. Similarly Kilkenny have a very potent forward division with Denise Gaule, Julieann Malone, Miriam Walsh Shelly Farrell and Sarah Ann Quinlan all capable of punishing any defence in the country. I feel this game could boil down to which defence can preventing the opposing forward line from scoring.  I feel this game could go down to the wire, and a mistake could be the difference between the sides. I feel that the harder contests Kilkenny faced might be the difference, but I don’t think they be anything more then a puck of a ball between the sides.
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