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Cats wary of much-changed Galway in final

By Declan Bogue

Kilkenny's Cillian Buckley is under no illusion that when he lines up against Galway in tomorrow's All-Ireland hurling final, it will be a different edition of the Westerners that the Cats beat in this year's Leinster final.

"They've changed their layout alone," acknowledged Buckley.

"The qualifier system brings advantages and disadvantages, one of the perks of it is that you get that run of games and that chance to experiment with things and I think Galway have got the chance to do that.

"I think they have learned their strongest line-out, which has changed from the Leinster final. They have new players coming in, we've seen the likes of Conor Whelan coming in since that Leinster final and he's really regenerated the Galway attack."

Galway are one of the few teams in the country that routinely show Kilkenny no fear and for that, Brian Cody's men will have to be wary.

"They are bringing that level of intensity and pure physicality that no other team in the country can bring," said the Dicksboro man.

"We hope we have the work done but All-Ireland final days are full of surprises, no doubt Galway will bring something new and hopefully we can take it head on."

Quizzed if the Westerners are bigger physical specimens than most other sides, Buckley answered: "For sure, I don't think it's any secret that Galway are one of the biggest, most physical teams in the country so why not use it to their advantage. It's definitely part of the game in football and hurling and from playing them over the years they definitely have that physical presence on the field."

Despite the foreboding, Buckley likes to simplify his objectives. It's an approach that has served him and his county well down through the years.

"You set goals at the start of the year. Of course you want to be in the team, of course you want to be in the panel but when you win it's a fierce sense of unity," he says.

"Winning All-Irelands, no matter what involvement you have, is a fierce, special feeling. For me, to win one, I can't think of any better day in my life so I just hope that in 2015 I can do it all over again."

Tomorrow's match represents the sixth time Anthony Cunningham has faced Cody as a manager, and he has a better record than most, with the Leinster final win in 2012 the only victory, along with two draws.

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