FORMER KILKENNY HURLER Michael Kavanagh believes a good start is key if Kilkenny are to win their 34th All-Ireland title.
In a repeat of this year’s Leinster final, where the Tribesmen claimed victory for the very first time, Sunday’s clash sees the Cats take on Galway at Croke Park and while that result will no doubt be on the players’ minds Kavanagh knows no added motivation is needed for a game of such importance.
The 33-year-old All-Star hung up his inter-county boots back in February after lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup eight times during a 14-year spell and is therefore well-placed to provide insight on the final.
According to the St Lachtain’s clubman, if Kilkenny can get out of the blocks quickest, their opponents will struggle to live with them.
“I think a good start is kind of crucial,” Kavanagh said. “Generally if Kilkenny get off to a good start then there is no stopping them. Galway came out of the blocks in that Leinster final and I think they caught Kilkenny off guard with their tactics and their intensity and I suppose they will be hoping to get that kind of start again and try to drive it on from there.
Obviously Kilkenny will want to redeem themselves from the performance they gave in that Leinster final and they will be hoping to get over Galway but certainly this is an All-Ireland final and huge motivation in itself.”
Kavanagh sees the absence of injured midfielder Michael Rice as a major blow but has emphasised how important fit-again JJ Delaney and Michael Fennelly can be.
“It’s a huge blow for Michael and tough for him personally, he has a tough injury as well and he’s probably going to miss out on the club campaign as well but certainly it’s a great boost to have JJ Delaney and Michael Fennelly back.
“They are key players now and JJ does a great job minding the square for Kilkenny and Michael is a top class midfielder and he’ll be driving things forward and getting back. He was definitely missed and the two of them will be big additions from the Leister final.”
The former corner-back, who played 48 times at senior level for Kilkenny, added that he misses the atmosphere which surrounds the team in the run-up to an All-Ireland final.
“These past few weeks it’s been tough, you’d certainly like to be involved, there’s a great buzz in and around Kilkenny and in training. But I suppose the hard work is done now and you’re looking forward to the match and certainly it’ll be unusual to be looking in from the sidelines.
This time of year and these couple of weeks you’d certainly like to be involved and I suppose I wouldn’t mind having my ticket allocation back as a player, my family are missing out.”