The West is Awake. It was a brilliant All-Ireland final. Waterford put up a heroic display, but Galway’s prowess in attack saw them overcome the Déise to bring to the Liam MacCarthy cup back to the Tribe for the first time since 1988.
Both teams had a number of outstanding performers. Galway’s impact from the bench was instrumental in upping the gears in the final quarter.
The man of the match in an All-Ireland final is a prestigious accolade and today had a number of contenders. The midfield battle ebbed and flowed. Defenders had their times where they dominated their opponents while a number of forwards managed to get on the scoreboard. Picking three was tough, but here is who we felt performed to the top of their game.
3. Conor Cooney
Galway’s attack had its ups and downs over the course of the day, and the impact from the bench of Niall Burke and Jason Flynn played a major role in putting Galway back in front after Waterford had edged one point ahead. But over the course of the 70 minutes Cooney was consistent and showed some exceptional moments.
Two of his points were up there with the finest to be scored in an All-Ireland hurling final and it was redemption for the St. Thomas’s man, who was brought on and taken off back in 2012. 2017 saw Cooney deliver on the biggest occasion.
2. Pauric Mahony
Waterford needed a leader in attack and Pauric Mahony took on major responsibility in the second half. After a steady first half display, Mahony’s support play around the middle third was very good as he put scores over the bar from play and from frees, playing an important part of the putting the Déise in front midway through the second half.
Unfortunately for Mahony and Waterford, their attack could not keep up the pace as they fell agonisingly short. But the Ballygunner man whose career was in threat back in 2015 performed very well in his first All-Ireland final.
1. David Burke
The midfield battle in this game was fascinating. Different players shone at different times. Kevin Moran started like a train, Jamie Barron continued with his energetic displays but on the balance the Galway captain David Burke had the most emphatic say on the outcome of this game.
He was not just the first Galway man to lift Liam McCarthy since 1988, he was the outstanding performer in playing off instinct and provided some vital scores from play.