Damien Joyce says Tribesmen embracing the challenge of dethroning ‘formidable’ Kilkenny outfit

The geography involved in Galway competing in the Leinster Championship has long since stopped being a topic according to selector Damien Joyce, who said they simply view it as one of the national competitions they are involved in.

his is Galway’s 14th year in the Leinster Championship and while they have won it three times, Kilkenny’s dominance of the province has continued.

This is the 12th year since Galway joined that Kilkenny have reached the final, with the Cats winning the Bob O’Keeffe Cup eight times in that period. This is Galway’s ninth final since they joined in 2009 and they are going for their fourth title.

Dublin have made it to five finals since the arrival of the Tribesmen, winning one of them, while Wexford have only reached the decider on three occasions in that spell, with their sole success coming three years ago. In the 13 years prior to Galway joining Leinster, Kilkenny also reached 11 finals, winning ten of them.

Joyce, a former Galway captain who played for three years in the Leinster Championship before he retired, said the Tribesmen have always held it in high regard and that it would be a huge boost if they lift the Bob O’Keeffe Cup again this evening.  

“It’s silverware, it’s a national competition that we are in and you are in those competitions to try your case as best you can, go as far as you can in the competition and if there is an opportunity to win something, you try as hard as you can,” said the Cappataggle clubman.

“We’re in the competition, we have been successful and we are in a final now again. That’s the challenge that is in front of us, that is the opportunity for us and we are looking forward to it.”

Joyce, who has been involved with various Galway teams since retiring, including Michéal Donoghue’s management when they won the All-Ireland in 2017, said it can be difficult to judge whether the Munster or Leinster Championships are stronger.

“It is hard to say. There is probably a narrative out there that the Munster Championship is stronger but for the teams in Leinster we would say there is a very competitive championship on the Leinster side as well. That will probably only play out when things develop but for us we haven’t really thought about the Munster Championship in any detail.

“We focused very much on the five games we had in front of us and that’s still the block of work we are still in and not until after the final this weekend will we start thinking beyond it.

“There is the narrative that the Munster Championship is stronger but that remains to be seen as things go on and at the end of it all, sometimes there isn’t that much between a lot of the teams,” added Joyce.

But first up for Joyce and Galway is Kilkenny and he knows they will need to produce an exceptional display if the Bob O’Keeffe Cup is to make a fourth journey back across the Shannon.

“You are talking about a team going for three-in-a-row Leinsters, they are in their fifth final in a row. They are a formidable outfit and of course they are targeting this game but that’s the challenge for us but it’s a brilliant opportunity for our players to go up and test ourselves in Croke Park in a Leinster final and that’s something we are looking forward to.”

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