Liam Sheedy believes Galway have well and truly banished any threat of "second-year syndrome" after their pulsating Leinster SHC final replay defeat of Kilkenny.
The reigning All-Ireland champions were 1-9 to 0-01 o the good 19 minutes in and looked like they were going to blow the Cats away. Brian Cody's men showed remarkable resilience to make a fight of it, but Galway ultimately had too much and closed out a seven-point victory.
Sheedy, speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, said the Tribesmen have benefited from their two tussles with Kilkenny, and that pretenders to the throne are going to have to do something special to take them down.
"It was another great game between two great teams," he said.
"It had everything. In fairness to Galway they showed really good character to close it out, outscoring Kilkenny by 0-08 to 0-02 in that last period of the game.
"Anybody that's going to have ambitions of knocking them off their perch is going to have to reach a really, really high level.
"They're flowing really well again. The thing about champions is that you're always worried about second-year syndrome. There was a bit of that last Sunday but yesterday they looked to have shaken off all of those cobwebs.
"There was a cohesion and a teamwork about Galway. Overall it was a really impressive performance."
For Kilkenny, it's a case of dusting themselves and going again. Cody's charges have a date with Limerick next weekend in the All-Ireland SHC quarters.
Sheedy expects another titanic collision.
"You have to say hats off to Kilkenny. They looked dead and buried twice in the match.
"To think they had it back to a one-point game after 55 minutes just tells you a bit about the honesty and the resolve that exists down there.
"The one thing we know about Kilkenny is that you just cannot write these guys off. They were immense yesterday when their backs were to the wall. Walter Walsh was a big loss for them, I'm not sure if he'll make it next weekend.
"Obviously Limerick had a big victory [against Carlow in the preliminary quarter-final] so it's going to put Kilkenny to the pin of their collar. You can't write Kilkenny off, but Limerick will feel they have a real opportunity after getting so close last year to turn them over and knock them out."