Return of Canning and Collins will provide real boost for Galway against Offaly
Galway’s David Collins, in last year’s Leinster semi-final fixture against Dublin, is expected to start Sunday’s game against Offaly after passing a fitness test.
By Ray Silke
On Sunday afternoon in O’Moore Park (2pm), the Galway hurlers face Offaly in the 2012 Leinster semi-final.
The prize on offer for the victors is a big one - a date in the Leinster final against Kilkenny or Dublin.
Galway are big favourites with the bookies at 1/3, with Offaly at 11/4 and the draw is 11/1. However, as Sligo and Carlow footballers proved last weekend, big odds can often produce big performances for the underdogs.
The Galway management team of Anthony Cunningham and selectors Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny have worked hard over the past fortnight to ensure an improvement on the performance Galway produced in the win over Westmeath.
Galway did enough to advance in that 5-19 to 4-12 quarter-final victory, but they will need to be much tighter at the back, partricularly when coming up against Shane Dooley, Joe Bergin and Cathal Parlon.
All three players are strong ball winners and strong finishers and Galway will have to be on red alert to keep their influence to a minimum. Dooley was hugely impressive in his team’s win over Wexford and he will have to be watched carefully.
Former Clare star Ollie Baker is in charge of Offaly now and he is eager to get his side into the Leinster final.
Traditionally Offaly is a hard team to beat and that was proven the last time the two sides met in championship, in 2010. There was two ding-dong battles that year before Galway finally advanced in the replay on a score-line of 3-17 to 2-18. (The first day in Croke park had ended Galway 2-19 to 3-16 for Offaly).
Collins and Canning fit to play
A major positive for Galway is that both Joe Canning and David Collins have been passed fit to play. The duo missed the game against Westmeath and the maroon defence should be more robust with Collins back in situ.
He has been suffering from an ankle injury for the past few weeks, but he is expected to be on the starting XV for Sunday.
Former All Star Joe Canning has recovered from his shoulder injury and will probably join his club colleague Damien Hayes in the Galway full-forward line. The Galway team is due to be selected tonight (Thursday) and regular goalkeeper James Skehill is also available for selection.
In preparation for Sunday’s game, Galway played Tipperary in Semple Stadium in a challenge last week. The game ended 3-16 to 0-21 in Galway’s favour and Ardrahan’s Jonathan Glynn and Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields) made a big impression.
Galway manager Anthony Cunningham expects a tough game on Sunday and he is taking nothing for granted.
“It is a boost to have the lads fit and available as we know it will be tough in Tullamore on Sunday. Offaly will have gained a lot of confidence from their win over Wexford and we know we have a big big task on our hands if we are to reach the final.”
Offaly manager Ollie Baker and has named an unchanged side for this Leinster semi-final as the county looks to qualify for a Leinster final for the first time since 2004.
Baker has kept faith with the same team that lined out in the 2-12 to 1-13 quarter-final win over Wexford on June 2.
Offaly (v Galway): J Dempsey; D Morkan, D Kenny (capt), D Franks; D Horan, R Hannify, J Rigney; C Mahon, K Brady; J Bergin, C Egan, B Murphy; S Dooley, C Parlon, B Carroll.