Galway hurlers aim to deliver first Leinster title since 2012

The Galway hurlers face a severe test of their credentials this Sunday afternoon at Croke Park (4pm ). In order to annex what would be the county's second Leinster title, they will need to produce a top-class display against current All-Ireland champions Kilkenny.

The Cats looked fantastic when they dismantled Wexford by 5-25 to 0-16 in their recent semi-final clash at Nowlan Park. Ger Aylward was their main scorer with 3-05 from play, and the usual names up front such as TJ Reid and Richie Hogan also chipped in with a combined 2-12. 

However, the question has to be asked – how good were Wexford?

The reality is that despite having lost such hurling superstars as Henry Shefflin and JJ Delaney to retirement since last September, the Kilkenny juggernaut with Cody at the wheel still looks like it will be difficult to derail.

And Galway team captain David Collins is extremely doubtful to play any part in Sunday's Leinster final due to a grade two hamstring pull that occurred last week. The options for manager Anthony Cunningham if the Liam Mellows man does not make it, include players such as Joseph Cooney, Fergal Moore,  Greg Lally and Gearoid McInerney. 

However Galway forward Conor Cooney, who unfortunately has suffered a disjointed and disappointing season to date due to injury, but is back light jogging after a foot operation on a broken bone, believes the Galway panel is really up for the challenge this weekend and rearing to go.

“All the lads are really looking forward to the game," he says. " It is all guns blazing to try to get another Leinster medal for those who were there in 2012, and to get a first one for the newer lads on the panel.

"The winners on Sunday are straight into the All-Ireland semi-final and that is a massive incentive for both teams. The morale is very good in the Galway camp following the wins over Dublin and Laois, and anytime you face Kilkenny, and especially in Croke Park in championship, there is a huge determination to produce a really good performance.

"We have not beaten Kilkenny in championship since the Leinster final in 2012, so it is well time to change that.”

Galway team captain David Collins is extremely doubtful to play any part in Sunday's Leinster final due to a grade two hamstring pull that occurred last week. The options for manager Anthony Cunningham if the Liam Mellows man does not make it, include players such as Joseph Cooney, Fergal Moore,  Greg Lally and Gearoid McInerney. 

The St Thomas’s man, who was nominated for an All-Star last season, was in the full-forward line for the Leinster final in 2012 when Galway shocked the Cats to win the title by 2-21 to 2-11, and hopes he will be fit and ready for action for Galway in the near future.

“Hopefully the lads can get a win on Sunday and go on a good run in the All-Ireland series. A win on Sunday opens up a great path towards trying to get back to an All-Ireland final. There are lots of landmines in the backdoor, so the best way for any team is to win the provincial championship and that is our target on Sunday.

"On a personal level, I would love to be back playing competitive hurling in August. We’ll just have to see how it goes on the injury front. Right now though, the only thing that matters is that the 20 Galway lads who see action on Sunday can produce a performance they are all proud of. If they do that, we can’t ask for anymore.”

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