The Galway hurlers will open their 2010 National Hurling League campaign on Sunday away to Limerick in Kilmallock at 2.30pm.
Galway are expected to easily collect the two points on offer as there are major problems in Limerick hurling relating to Justin McCarthy’s position as manager which are still on-going with no sign of any resolution.
This strife has led to many of the established Limerick players not making themselves available for the 2010 season, with up to 24 hurlers having pulled out.
Hence Limerick will be hugely weakened by the absence of such key personnel and they are available in the bookies at 7/1 to win, with Galway at a prohibitive 1/25.
It is sad to see problems such as this creeping into other counties, but Galway need to get their league season off to a winning start and they will be very keen to build on last weekend’s victory over Dublin and continue their successful start to the new season. They have Waterford at home in Pearse Stadium on the following week ( February 28 ), and they want to head into that fixture with two points in the bag.
The management team has made just one change from the team that annexed the Walsh Cup last weekend, continuing the policy of alternating the goalkeepers with James Skehill coming back onto the starting XV.
There is some also concern over Ger Farragher, who is suffering from a groin injury picked up last weekend, while Niall Hayes is still available prior to the All-Ireland club final with Portumna in three weeks’ time. Former captain David Collins, who has returned from serious injury, will also be hopeful of seeing some action in the next few weeks.
Five Galway players will be making their National Hurling League debuts next Sunday, Pat Holland, Donal Barry, Niall Cahalane, David Burke and Aidan Harte.
They enter the league boosted by their success in winning the Walsh Cup for the first time, having defeated Dublin in Parnell Park by 1-22 to 1-15.
It was a good performance from Galway. They did what was expected of them in a professional and efficient way.
They were solid at the back where Tony Og Regan and Kavanagh held the middle well and stopped most of the Dublin traffic coming through.
Ger Farragher, who has been in terrific form of late, hit nine points from midfield and he is rapidly developing into one of the most influential players on the team. The forwards enjoyed plenty of ball and 1-22 was a good return, with only three wides posted. What was also impressive was that the Galway forwards also worked their socks off when not in possession and Niall Hayes, Aonghus Callanan and Aidan Harte were particularly prominent in that regard.
Galway always looked the more likely side to win and in truth once they moved ahead following a very fine goal from the impressive Joe Gantley after only 15 minutes, they never looked back.
They led from Gantley’s strike until the final whistle and with Farragher and Niall Cahalan dominating midfield they always looked in control.
The win last weekend sets the side up nicely for their trip to Kilmallock to take on a depleted Limerick this Sunday.
Galway (v Limerick ): James Skehill, Damien Joyce, Shane Kavanagh, Pat Holland, Donal Barry, Tony Og Regan, Kevin Hynes, Ger Farragher, Niall Cahalan, Aonghus Callanan, Cyril Donnellan, David Burke, Aidan Harte, Joe Gantley, Niall Hayes.