"I'm not sure anyone can do what Gillane can do" - Gillane gets the praise he deserves
Aaron Gillane didn't even flinch.
Daithí Burke gave him a snig and a half but, as he ran out to the ball and with the ball there to be won, Gillane didn't have any interest in winning the free. Let's take care of business first.
He controlled it with the deftest of first touches and then, in his stride and like he always does, he swung it over off the left. And that left is absolutely divine.
The Patrickswell man scored six points, one as good as the next on Sunday, and you'd have to say that, just ahead of Adrian Mullen, he is now the front-runner for the Hurler of the Year award. It's hard to believe he's never won one.
He has hit 3-40 (0-22 frees) in this championship and the reason he's ahead of the rest - where do we start - is that as well as having all the skills, the touches and the moves - just as important as all of that - Aaron Gillane is also as tough as a pair of Copa Mundials.
And if somehow we didn't know it before, we certainly know it now.
"There's something very steely in the way he plays," said Diarmuid Lyng on this week's GAA Hour Hurling Show.
"It slowed down that point that he got in the second half - Daithí Burke came in a little bit late and a little bit high and caught him across the hand, and I was looking, just staring at his face to see what were the reactions.
"Because you got a full like, three seconds of him getting the belt and then he took it around and composed himself and got the score and there was nothing in his face that said do you know, I got a belt here."
"It was brilliant. Like Flanagan (In the Munster final) getting the belt in the back I suppose he was just kind of 'well sure look it, these things happen.'"
"It was just, well look it, I just got the belt and off I go, there was no reaction in him to say 'poor me,' and he could have, he was entitled to, because it was one of those ones where you'd be like, yerra, that's a dirty belt you know."
Aaron Gillane is hard as nails 🔨
(Clip via RTE Sport) pic.twitter.com/OZ8KAQw9ts
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) July 6, 2022
Kilkenny man James Ryall is just as impressed by Gillane and he says that, come the All-Ireland final, they only have one man with the ability of sticking with him.
"I'm not sure anyone can do what Gillane can do in that 13 position when he swings onto the left. It's a one-touch and strike thing. He just has such a natural flow. Tony Kelly's the closest to him, for that ability to get the strike off."
But while Mikey Butler managed to quieten Clare's talisman, Ryall sees Gillane as a completely different kettle of fish.
"You can get a lad to go around and annoy Tony Kelly for the day and it can work. But if you're annoying Gillane, I don't think it will work because just that sheer brilliance, it comes out in the way he plays. They're two completely different guys to try and man-mark. People are saying there that Mikey Butler could be the man for Gillane - I'm not so sure, I'd rather see Huw Lawlor on him, because he has massive pace and the only way to get the better of Gillane is to get out in front of him," said Ryall.
"I always enjoy watching Gillane. You can annoy a lot of fellas out of games, but, on the other hand Gillane nearly bullies the back out of it before they ever get the chance to annoy him," added Darach Honan.
"And that's another thing to consider about him," added Lyng. If you have a Tony Kelly, you're here right, we're here to play ball. He doesn't really have that edginess whereas with Gillane, you're worried about him going in behind for a goal or being out in front for a point. But you're also worried that this fella could start bullying me as well."