Galway v Waterford, Croke Park, Sunday 3.30pm
Galway to win (-3.0) points – 10/11
The Déise have beaten Galway on each of the ten occasions the teams have met in the championship since 1939. This season Waterford found Cork too hot to handle in Munster (0-23 to 1-15), but gathered a head of steam through the qualifiers and with wins over Offaly (1-35 to 0-14) and Kilkenny after extra-time (4-23 to 2-22).
Derek McGrath’s men then disposing of Wexford (1-23 to 1-19) in the All-Ireland quarter-final and exacting revenge on Cork (4-19 to 0-20) in no uncertain terms in the last four. They’re missing Conor Gleeson, who received a straight red card in the victory over The Rebels, but Austin Gleeson has been given the green light to play.
After stumbling start to the season saw The Tribesmen suffer a shock loss to Wexford in Division 1B on the league, but they dusted themselves off and went on to win the Division 1 title after remaining unbeaten for rest of the campaign.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 31, 2017
Galway waltzed through Leinster and booked their ticket to the All-Ireland final with a breathtaking 0-22 to 1-18 victory over last year’s champions Tipperary. Joe Canning was their life-saver, with a winning score deep into injury-time and he is their top scorer in the Championship landing 0-37 in four matches, an average of 9.25 points per game.
Verdict: Galway have never beaten Waterford in a Championship contest, but it looks like that’s about to change on the biggest stage of all. The Tribesmen have far more scoring power up front and arrive in the All-Ireland final on better form, having disposed of champions Tipperary in the semi-final.
With Joe Canning pulling the strings at centre-forward and Conor Whelan as well as Conor Cooney at the peak of their powers, it is hard to envisage anything other than a Galway win. Indeed, it could even be far more comfortable than the betting suggests and backing the men from the west to beat the three-point handicap looks a great bet.
Under 2.5 Goals – 8/5
While Waterford have scored 11 goals in their five championship matches so far, three of those arrived after Damien Cahalane was sent off for Cork in the 52nd minute of the All-Ireland semi-final. As the Rebels chased the game and space opened up for The Déise to exploit.
Galway have reached the All-Ireland final by resisting the temptation of going for goals and picking off long-range points. They have failed to find the net in each of their last three games, scoring 0-33 in the win over Offaly, 0-29 in their Leinster final success over Wexford and 0-22 in the All-Ireland semi-final triumph over Tipperary.
Do not expect them to change their philosophy on the biggest day of all and goals could be at a serious premium.
Gearoid McInerney to be in the RTE Man of the Match Nominations – 11/2
Who can forget Gearoid McInerney’s shuddering shoulder on Paudie Maher in the All-Ireland semi-final? Indeed, the only thing that bettered that blow was the performance of the Galway centre back.
McInerney was awesome in the victory over Tipperary and his confidence should be sky-high heading into this decider. With Waterford placing so much responsibility on their half-forward line to gain possession, this game looks tailormade for McInerney and it would come as little surprise to see him in the thick of things once again.
He looks a great price at 11/2 to receive a nomination for the Man of the Match award on RTE’s The Sunday Game.
* All odds correct at the time of posting