Having seen off Offaly with the minimum of fuss last weekend, the Galway senior hurlers will head down the M17 on Saturday for a far more relevant assignment when they face off against a wounded Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds (7pm ).
Three-pointers from Gearóid McInerney, John Fleming, Evan Niland and Donal O’Shea helped Galway romp to victory last Sunday, and manager Henry Shefflin was pleased with his side’s first league outing.
“I think starting the league on a positive note was very important,” Shefflin says. “I thought there were a lot of passages of play that were very good and a lot of stuff that we have been working on.
“Conor Whelan was very impressive I must say. When you are getting fast ball inside, the important thing is that you have someone who makes it stick inside, and he was exceptional today.
“There was a couple of chances left behind us, but look, it’s the second weekend in February, so from that perspective you would have to be happy.”
Limerick will be keen to avoid another loss having ended up second best down in Wexford Park last Sunday, a contentious Mikey Dwyer goal the difference between the sides.
Shefflin heard the result over the Pearse Stadium tannoy and acknowledged the step-up in class that lies ahead for his side.
“It’ll be a very difficult game,” he says. “We are probably taking this league in phases. So this is phase one today and next weekend. Then you have two weekends off until the next game.
"It’ll be a severe test going down there, especially after Limerick’s result today. They’ll be mad keen to turn that around. Everyone says 'sure isn’t it a great challenge to go up against the champions', and we’ll find out more about the team and about the players as well which is great.”
Last Sunday provided an opportunity to further assess the potential of players such as Tiernan Killeen, Jack Hastings, Cianan Fahy, Shane Ryan, and Ronan Glennon, but Shefflin hopes to have some more experienced players at his disposal for this fixture.
“Cathal Mannion is just carrying a bit of a niggle more so than anything else, so we are just hoping he’ll be back training Tuesday night.
“The St Thomas’ lads were back in this week, but we just felt it was appropriate they get another week off, that they are not playing games constantly. That was important as well. Obviously they will be back into the reckoning now hopefully as well.”
GALWAY: E Murphy; J Grealish, D Burke, D Cronin; G McInerney (1-1 ), P Mannion, T Killeen; J Cooney, R Glennon (0-2 ); T Monaghan (0-3 ), J Hastings (0-1 ), C Fahy (0-1 ); E Niland (1-6, 0-5fs, 0-1 ’65 ), C Whelan (0-3 ), B Concannon (0-1 ). Subs: J Fleming (1-2 ) for Concannon (20 ), E Burke (0-1 ) for Niland (56 ), D O’Shea (1-1, 0-1 ’65 ) for Fahy (56 ), C Walsh for Monaghan (59 ), S Ryan for Hastings (64 ).
OFFALY : C Clancy; D King, C Burke, J Screeney (0-1 ); K Sampson (0-1 ), B Conneely, J Keenaghan; R. Ravenhill, L Fox; A Cleary (0-1 ), E Kelly, E Cahill (0-10, 0-8fs ); J Murphy (0-1 ), J Sampson (0-1 ), L O’Connor. Subs: C Molloy for King (35 ), L Langton (0-2fs ) for Cleary (35 ), D Nally for Ravenhill (56 ), B Duignan for Fox (56 ), D Maher for Molloy (56 ), E Parlon for Cahill (68 ).
REFEREE: R McGann (Clare ).