Hurlers aim to bridge seven-year gap when they take on Tipperary

Galway’s Conor Cooney, part of an impressive full forward line,  and Limerick's Richie English in action from the Allianz Hurling League semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway’s Conor Cooney, part of an impressive full forward line, and Limerick's Richie English in action from the Allianz Hurling League semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway will be hoping to continue their winning form when they face All-Ireland champions Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday (3.30pm ) in the league final.

Galway posted an impressive 1-21 to 1-11 win over Limerick at the same grounds last weekend, while Tipperary were 5-18 to 1-19 winners over Wexford in their semi-final at Nowlan Park.

That victory came at a cost for the Premier County as their All-Star forward Seamus Callanan suffered a broken thumb and is out of Sunday's final. According to reports, he is expected to be under pressure to be back for the first round of the Munster championship.

Galway's manager Michael Donoghue is understandably pleased with how his panel has responded to recent challenges, with victories over Limerick (twice ) and Waterford having propelled them to this final. The other obvious advantage of a league final is having extra competitive games which is top class preparation for their Leinster final date with Dublin in late May.

“There are only two national titles you can go for. In that regard, it is nice to be here," Donoghue says. "Our aim at the outset of the league was to go as far as we could and to get us as close as possible to the championship.”

The Clarinbridge man and his squad are aware Sunday's clash will be a step up, but it is a challenge they will relish.

Tipperary and Galway have produced some rip-roaring games in the championship over the past few seasons and hurling fans will be hoping for more of the same in three days.

After Tipperary's win over Wexford, manager Michael Ryan says they had targeted league success this season and that their objective had not changed. They will be hitting Limerick this Sunday trying to close out that deal and it will be interesting to see if Galway have the firepower and defensive capabilities to stop them.

Galway's full-forward line impressed

It was the Galway full-forward line of Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan with a combined 1-10 that really set the tone for last Sunday's victory. All three were in flying form. When they got early ball the Limerick full-back line was in serious trouble. The standard will rise this weekend when they face Cathal Barrett, James Barry, and Michael Cahill.

No doubt the Galway players will believe if they get good service from out the field, they have the pace and accuracy to do damage.

Tipperary, too, have some serious fire-power in their full-forward line in Noel McGrath and John McGrath, who both took Wexford for 2-2, and the Galway full-back line will know those two men cannot be given space or they will punish any team. Substitute Michael Breen came off the bench for the Tipp men last weekend and hit 0-4 from play in a hugely impressive 35 minutes of hurling.

A key battleground on Sunday will be around midfield where Johnny Coen and David Burke have been performing really well for Galway, so how they do against Brendan Forde, who hit 1-2 from play last weekend, and Jason Forde, who notched two points, will be critical to the outcome.

Galway have not won a league title for seven years, Tipperary represent a formidable challenge.

However, to be a top team, it is necessary to play and beat the best.

It has the makings of a cracking game.

Galway: C Callanan, A Tuohy, J Hanbury, A Harte, P Mannion 0-1, G McInerney, Daithí Burke, J Coen 0-1, David Burke 0-1, J Cooney, J Canning 0-7 (6fs ), P Brehony, C Whelan 0-2, C Mannion 0-4, C Cooney 1-4.Subs: T Monaghan 0-1 for Brehony (55 ), P Killeen for Hanbury (56 ), N Burke for J Cooney (63 ), J Flynn for Whelan (66 ), S Loftus for David Burke (68 ).

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