Wexford away is the next challenge for Galway hurlers

Leinster championship games are coming thick and fast for the Galway hurlers now.

Following their impressive 1-22 to 2-11 victory over Kilkenny last Sunday in Pearse Stadium, Galway face Davy Fitzgerald’s improving and robust Wexford outfit in round four of the Leinster championship round robin at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday (5pm ).

Wexford had a facile 5-24 to 2-09 win over Offaly last weekend and are top of the table on score difference (+29 ) after their two wins, having beaten Dublin in their first game.

They worked hard in their win over a disjointed Offaly last Saturday evening in Bord na Mona O’Connor Park, forcing 12 turnovers in the first half alone. All-Ireland winning player and manager with Clare, Davy Fitzgerald, was pleased with his side’s performance, and no doubt he will have his players well revved up and focussed to take on the All-Ireland champions in a few days' time.

The last time the sides met in championship was last year's Leinster final which Galway won in some style at Croke Park by 0-29 to 1-17.

However, the Yellowbellies achieved some measure of retribution for that defeat when they beat Galway in the league quarter-final earlier this year down in Wexford.

Galway looked more in tune

Galway looked a little rusty looking in that league game and they looked a lot more in tune last Sunday in front of a whopping crowd of 18,775 in Salthill.

The Galway defence was hard hitting against Brian Cody’s men and the home side had five yellow cards over the day, with some close-to-the-edge tackling coughing up a good few scorable frees that helped TJ Reid hit eight points from placed balls and a goal from a penalty.

It is only May, however, and the Galway hurling supporters will have been pleased to see the good form of Joe Canning, who notched 1-10, including 0-7 from frees and a penalty. Conor Cooney also hit three sweet points in succession near the end to put a bit of gloss on the scoreline. While Conor Whelan did not score, he worked really hard, and his pace is a real asset to the team.

The defensive foundation rocks of Daithí Burke and Gearoid McInerney stood firm for the duration too, and it was terrific to see Paul Killeen get some game time at the end. He has worked incredibly hard to get back to fitness, and hopefully he will have a good injury free season.

Kilkenny’s Brian Cody was full of praise for Galway’s display.

“You can see the confidence in their play and teamwork from winning the All-Ireland," he said. "It is not a surprise. The hurlers have been there the whole time and I would say the Galway teams of years gone by were also very, very good. The current team are obviously a hugely strong team and they have an awful lot going for them.”

A ‘league thing’

Kilkenny struggled to make an impact from play, which is a feather in the hat for Galway’s workrate and collective defensive effort.

The Cats only hit 1-02 from play over the hour, and only three Kilkenny players, Walter Walsh, TJ Reid and Luke Scanlon, scored over the 70 minutes. Six Galway players hit the target.

Cody has been around too long to get panicked by such a stat though.

“Some games go like that, and we would certainly like to be working the scoreboard more from play. We knew coming across to Galway that we were facing an outstanding team and we weren’t good enough on the day. It is a league thing and our focus is on our next match now.”

The Galway players have no time to rest on their laurels as they know they will face a hot reception on Saturday evening.

Manager Micháel Donoghue, though, is happy with Galway.

“The last couple of weeks have gone well for us in training. We’re consicous that there are four matches in this. We put a lot in the fact that last Sunday was our first championship game in Galway. That said, it was just game two and we are looking forward to what will be a big challenge next weekend now.”

Galway’s last round robin game will be in Pearse Stadium against Dublin on June 9 with the Leinster final fixed for July 1.

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