A quiet start to life in the Leinster championship it may be, but Galway hurlers will enter O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Sunday aware that a positive statement needs to be made on an historic afternoon.
For years Galway have pined for a level playing field with all the other Liam McCarthy Cup pretenders, and now the time has arrived for Galway to deliver a purposeful summer and autumnal run.
Since the 2005 All Ireland final appearance Galway have only offered glimpses of the required craft both in league and championship. While a NHL title was not needed, Galway were below Kilkenny and Tipperary’s standard during that competition.
There is no denying the mitigating circumstances due to injuries and Portumna’s commitments, so it would be unwise to dismiss Galway on the basis of a couple of heavy spring defeats. During that competition John McIntyre, Joe Connolly, John Hardiman, and John Moylan experimented, and the results will be revealed in the next couple of months.
A recent challenge match reversal to Waterford featured some encouraging moments early on for an understrength Galway, according to manager John McIntyre.
“Having led by five points at the interval, it was admittedly disappointing to lose out by nine in the end. Short Ollie Canning, Niall Healy,and Andy Smith due to a variety of reasons, Galway were well in the contest until running badly out of steam in the second half.
“I thought the Galway players competed well until the fatigue factor set in. Once again, however, we had difficulty in winning primary possession while, physically, Waterford had a definite edge as well.”
Still Galway boast competent hurlers in every line. Damien Joyce, Ollie Canning, Shane Kavanagh, Richie Murray, Ger Farragher, Aonghus Callanan, and Joe Canning all have the craft to steer the maroons through an interesting adventure.
As Galway’s preparations continue, McIntyre is adamant there is sufficient drive in the panel, and hopes to provide evidence of this.
“Overall, players and management have to up the ante over the coming weeks. We know there is a huge challenge ahead of us and substantial improvement is required. The Laois match is edging closer all the time and we have no intention of looking beyond that. It is our intention that Galway will hit the Leinster championship running.”
Being physical and hurling with purpose is what Galway intend to achieve, and there is sufficient ability sprinkled around the team to enjoy a bountiful Bank Holiday weekend success.
GALWAY (v Laois ): C Callanan; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; F Moore, J Lee, A Cullinane; K Hynes, A Smith; A Callanan, K Hayes, C Donnellan; D Hayes, J Canning, N Healy.