Healy and Tannion still doubtful as Galway face in-form Cats

The Galway senior hurlers and their loyal supporters will head down the motorway from Gort this Sunday morning to face Kilkenny in the league semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick (2pm).

The game is part of an attractive double-header that also sees Clare face Tipperary in the other semi-final at 4pm.

Galway have been struck with a few injuries in the lead up to the game and former All-Star and regular corner back Fergal Moore is definitely out after having pins put in his hand to rectify a broken finger injury.

Niall Healy and centre-back Iarla Tannian have also been troubled by hamstring injuries in the past week, and their availability is still in question. Both players are undergoing rehab at the moment and the team management is giving them every chance to be declared fit. The team trains tomorrow night (Friday) when the two players will be assessed.

According to team manager Anthony Cunningham, the pair are improving and, if that progress is maintained all week, it is probable they will be fit to start,

It would be a big plus if Tannian was available as he has caught the eye at centre-back with his power and aerial ability adding stability to the rearguard.

Many supporters are looking forward to seeing how he will do in the anchor role against Kilkenny, so fingers crossed he will be able to fill the number six jersey.

The sides have met already in the league in Nowlan Park and the home side, which was without some of the established stars, won on a score-line of 2-16 to 1-16.

Galway have reached the semi-final courtesy of an easy 1-20 to 1-12 victory over Limerick in the quarter-finals at Sunday's venue.

The return of the Portumna trio, team captain Joe Canning, Damien Hayes and Andy Smith, does give the management options, especially up front if Niall Healy is ruled out.

St Thomas star Conor Cooney has been doing very well in keeping the scoreboard ticking over and he has tallied 3-38 in the league to date. His main allies in the scoring department have been Niall Healy, Cathal Mannion and big Jonathan Glynn.

Advancing to the league semi-final is a big plus for Galway's championship preparation and team manager Anthony Cunningham is hoping they can reach the final now.

"We are going to Limerick on Sunday to try to win the game. There can be no hiding at this stage. We are where we want to be, and while Kilkenny represent a massive challenge, we are looking forward to meeting them head on. Sunday promises to be a great day of top class hurling and we are delighted to be in the last four. Our objective now is to be in the final in a fortnight's time."

What has impressed many Galway supporters over the past few months has been the form and integration into the team of Ronan and Daithí Burke, Cathal Mannion, Jason Flynn and Padraig Brehony at midfield.

It is great to see new young talent making the breakthrough into the starting 15 and Cunningham agrees.

"Absolutely. Some of the newer lads on the panel have been doing very well. They have brought some very impressive club form into the squad and have settled very well.

"Competition for places is fantastic and it leads to very competitive and high quality training and that is what we want and need. With the Portumna lads back from their All-Ireland club success, it means that we have a high quality panel to pick from, and players that can have a really positive impact coming in off the bench. Every team needs to have that option."

Galway are not out in championship action until the middle of June so a win on Sunday would allow them another two weeks of top preparation for a league final against a top side such as Clare or Tipp.

No doubt Brian Cody and his players will have a different view on that requirement.

Kilkenny are motoring well, producing high scorelines with18 goals in their six games to date. They defeated Wexford by 4-22 to 2-16 in their quarter-final joust.

Kinvara's Colm Callanan has been in magnificent form in the Galway goal in the past few weeks, and it looks likely his skill and bravery will be fully tested again this weekend.

Galway are 2/1 on Sunday, with Kilkenny at 4/9, and the 2012 All-Ireland champions are 11/10 at minus three. The one thing of which the bookies are really confident is that there will be at least one goal in this game, and it is 17/1 that no goal will be scored. Even at twice those odds, that seems like a bad option.

The tickets for the games are €20 for adults, and €5 for u-16s. However those who buy a ticket in advance this week, will get €5 off, which makes the double header good value.

 

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