Having seen off Waterford last Sunday in some style, Galway still have a decent chance of claiming top spot in division 1A, and perhaps a place in a decider further down the road, when they travel to take on Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (1.45pm ).
Currently level on six points with Tipperary, Galway are behind on the head-to-head tie-breaker after the defeat in Semple Stadium. As a result they will need to better Tipperary’s result away to Waterford, a match which takes place at the same time in Walsh Park.
If this were to come to pass, a potential Leinster final rematch against currently unbeaten division 1B winners Kilkenny would also double up as a league final.
Based on Waterford’s first-half showing at Pearse Stadium, they may well give Liam Sheedy’s men a run for their money. They had Galway chasing shadows at times in the first quarter and should have ended that spell with more than one goal to their name.
Speaking afterwards, Galway manager Shane O’Neill admitted his team had been second best early on.
"We started relatively quickly, but we had four wides. We had the chances to score, but we didn't have the composure. That affected us for a bit because Waterford was the better side for the majority of the first quarter," he said.
Galway’s second-quarter revival hinged on Brian Concannon’s sharpness in front of goals, Conor Whelan’s purposeful exuberance, and Joe Canning’s cunning eye for a killer pass. Armed with a four-point advantage at the midterm, O’Neill was keen to press home the momentum shift.
“We had to be conscious of the need after half time to keep it going because we had been six or seven points down. The disappointing aspect of the second half would be the second quarter when they had six scores on the bounce and we didn't have any reply, so that's something as well we are going to have to look at," O'Neill said.
The Galway manager may be right to highlight areas for improvement, but Galway had the game well won by that point and Waterford had thrown in the towel with 15 minutes to play, with the closing stages resembling nothing more than a training exercise.
With only three weeks until a Leinster semi-final and plenty of bodies in need of the physio table after a bruising encounter, O’Neill is still keen to emphasise that Galway needs to be firing on as many cylinders as possible against the Rebels.
"We will be taking the game against Cork seriously. They rested a lot of players last night against Limerick, so they will be trying to finish the league strongly and we will be trying to do something similar.”
Kieran Kingston’s men had an impressive goal-laden opening round win against Waterford before letting a lead slip against Tipperary in round two. The 7-27 racked up against Westmeath was a point less than Galway’s total against the minnows, while Limerick’s aggressive press on Cork’s short puck-out strategy was a major factor in an eight-point loss for the Rebels last time out.