A new era begins for Galway footballers on Sunday

The Galway footballers and Joe Kernan begin their 2010 campaign with an FBD encounter with Sligo this Sunday at 2pm in Tuam Stadium.

There has been considerable talk during the close season about Kernan’s likely influence for the coming year and there is much positivity and enthusiasm for the new season among the panel and football followers throughout the county.

Hopefully weather conditions will improve for this Sunday and the team’s loyal supporters will get their first viewing of Kernan’s men in action.

The surface in Tuam was in tremendous condition last autumn for the county finals and if a game can go ahead in any pitch in the current cold snap, then Tuam is the venue.

Galway have held a few trial games over the past few weeks in an effort to give aspiring club players a chance to shine and become part of the league panel for February. The league final between Cortoon Shamrocks and Tuam Stars also gave the management team an opportunity to have a look at players from those two squads.

2007 All-Ireland minor winning full-forward Michael Martyn impressed in that league final and he is likely to get a few outings in the FBD to see if can make the step up to senior inter-county level.

His clubmate Donal O’Neill, who is a very composed corner back, is also likely to see action over the coming weekends. Other players who have impressed are the tigerish Jamie Murphy from Tuam Stars who scored a stunning goal in the league final and Barna’s Paddy Kennedy and Eoin McDonagh.

Toto Griffin had a very fine season at midfield for Lei tir Mór and he did very well against New York in last year’s FBD final so he is a likely starter.

Carraroe’s Sean Ó Domhnaill, who is one of Kernan’s selectors, pointed out during the week that there are many players unavailable for a variety of reasons and that a game like this Sunday allows fringe players to lay down markers for places on the national league panel.

“We are without the Corofin players due to club commitments and some players will be playing with their colleges. We also have a lot of players who have knocks and are not available. Established players like Padraic Joyce, Cormac Bane, Finian Hanley, Seán Armstrong, Michael Meehan, Barry Cullinane and Diarmuid Blake are all unlikely to feature and so we will need new players to come onboard and fill those vacancies.

“The entire panel and management team are eager to get a few games under our belts over the next few weeks. The National League starts up in four weeks so it is important to try to get a system of play going and nothing establishes that better than competitive games so we are looking forward to dusting off the cobwebs,” he says.

A side plot to this weekend’s encounter will be that it will be the first time that the 1998 All-Ireland winning midfield pairing of Seán O’Domhnaill and Kevin Walsh will cross paths as members of opposition management teams.

Walsh had a very fine debut season as Sligo manager last year gaining promotion from division four and running Kerry close in the All-Ireland qualifiers, but his side faces a big step up in standard when they meet the likes of Fermanagh, Wexford, Cavan and Roscommon in a competitive division three grouping.

*Galway v Sligo, FBD league Rd 1, Sunday, Tuam Stadium at 2pm

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