Former Dublin All-Ireland winning football manager Pat Gilroy will have the Dublin hurling squad in Salthill on Saturday evening to take on Galway in the final round of the Leinster Senior Hurling championship round robin series (7pm ).
The game is a dead rubber. Galway have already qualified for the Leinster final on July 1 – their fourth in a row - by virtue of their 1-23 to 0-17 win over Wexford last weekend, and Dublin are safe from relegation to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2019 having defeated Offaly by 2-24 to 0-13 at Parnell Park.
However, it will be an opportunity for Micheál Donoghue to give some game time to panel members to see how they fare in a competitive fixture.
Donoghue was pleased after his side produced a dominant performance to beat Davy Fitzgerald’s side by nine points last Saturday evening, and he was also keen to distinguish between his team just being big men, and being big men who can hurl.
“We are fortunate with our group in that we have huge big men and they are athletic," he says. "However, the overwhelming factor is that they are all able to hurl. We have 36 lads pushing every night and there is huge competition to get into the 15. When everyone is pushing, that bodes well.”
Donoghue's point well made. However, Galway's physical power is a distinct advantage and the old truism comes to mind - "That big guys stay big, when the fast lads get tired."
Having serious ball winners such as Johnny Glynn and Conor Cooney in the inside forward line allows Galway to go long from James Skehill's booming puck-outs and bypass Wexford's sweeper system, and if they get their hands on the sliotar, they are in the danger zone immediately.
That is an advantage Galway has over most teams and allows them to mix it up when required.
Canning's 50th championship game
Joe Canning made his 50th championship appearance for Galway last weekend, and the current hurler of the year marked it with a sublime display of free-taking.
He also hit two sweet side-line cuts for good measure. It was concerning to see the Portumna man go off after getting a bang on the knee, but word suggests it was precautionary, and he can be rested this weekend too in order to give him every opportunity to be back to full fettle for the final.
Galway got off to a flying start and led by 1-1 to no score after two minutes - Conor Whelan hitting a goal after following up an effort from the swashbuckling Pádraic Mannion. Conor Cooney was also in good form and ended the tie with 0-4 from play.
Galway led by 1-12 to 0-9 at half-time and looked the better team for the entire second half.
Following the defeat last weekend, Wexford face a straight shoot-out with Kilkenny next Saturday at 7pm in Nowlan Park to see who will face Galway in the Leinster final. Wexford can afford a draw as they boast a 14-point advantage on the Cats in the score difference.
Scorers for Galway : J Canning 0-12 (8 frees, 2 S/Ls ), C Whelan 1-2, C Cooney 0-4, D Burke 0-2, J Cooney, N Burke, J Flynn (f ) 0-1 each.
Galway: J Skehill, A Harte, Daithí Burke, J Hanbury, P Mannion, G McInerney, A Tuohy, J Coen, David Burke (cpt ), J Cooney, J Canning, C Mannion, C Whelan, J Glynn, C Cooney. Subs used: P Killeen for McInerney (temp ), J Flynn for Glynn, N Burke for Cooney, B Concannon for C Mannion, S Linnane for Hanbury, D Glennon for Canning.