Galway u-21 hurling team manager Anthony Cunningham will lead his panel to Thurles this Saturday (6pm ) in the hopes of returning to to Croke Park for a second successive All-Ireland decider.
His team face a strong Limerick outfit which has already beaten Clare and Cork in an epic Munster final to get to this stage.
The Munster final ended 4-20 to 1-27 after extra time and was a sensational game and will have brought on Leo O’ Connor’s side considerably.
They have a major worry though over their team captain and senior star Kevin Downes, who is doubtful with a broken knuckle in his right hand sustained in the game against Cork.
Speaking in Dublin this week, Downes was still unsure if he would be available.
“I still don’t know to be honest whether I can play on Saturday. I must see the specialist again this week and I’m getting intensive physio on it. I’ve just been doing basic fitness work and catching balls. I’m trying to keep the eye in, but I still haven’t been able to hold the hurl properly. Getting an injection for the pain won’t be ideal and isn’t the road you want to go down. I’ll have to discuss it with the doctors and see.”
However the Limerick manager has other impressive players such as Graeme Mulcahy, Shane Dowling and Declan Hannon to call upon to provide leadership and scores if Downes fails to make the starting line-up.
Galway have players with intercounty senior experience under their belt too and they are captained by Barry Daly.
Thankfully the Tribesmen have no injuries to contend with and the team is to be announced after training this evening.
The Galway starting 15 is likely to include established players such as James Regan, David Burke, Gerard O’ Halloran, Niall O’ Donoghue and Johnny Coen. Others who have been going well in training and are likely to line out are Paul Gordon, Deccie Connolly and Davie Glynn.
Speaking to Advertiser Sport yesterday, Anthony Cunningham was positive about Saturday and looking forward to the contest.
“We have been training a few times a week for the past few months and we are really looking forward to the game. Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny [team coaches] have the lads in great shape and they are moving well. Obviously the fact that Limerick have played championship over the past few weeks is a plus for them, but we just have to get on with it and play the cards we are dealt. There has been good intensity in our sessions and we are confident of matching them in that department.
“Limerick were very impressive in their wins over Clare and Cork and we know that we will have to be at our best to beat them. They looked to have a serious fighting spirit in overcoming Cork but we have a lot of belief in our panel of players who have worked tremendously hard over the past few months.
“We expect to be very competitive and there or thereabouts at the end. You don’t get an easy All-Ireland semi-final and we are going down expecting a really tough game, but it is one we are hopeful of winning.”
Galway are 11/10 to win on Saturday and the winners will face either Dublin or Antrim in the final.