The Galway senior hurlers head to Portlaoise on Saturday (7pm ) for the Leinster semi-final replay against Offaly, hoping to redeem themselves and give their supporters something to cheer about after a poor team performance last Sunday in Croke Park.
Galway management has delayed selection to assess a number of injury concerns.
The team’s most potent forward, Joe Canning, has a badly bruised hand and he is joined by Ollie Canning (hamstring ), David Burke (shoulder ) and Damien Hayes (knee ) in a race against time to be fit for 7pm in O’Moore Park.
The return of Andy Smith from suspension is a positive and he may slip straight back into his normal wing-forward position.
It will be interesting too whether Castlegar’s Donal Barry, who was replaced by John Lee after only 30 minutes, will be reinstalled in the number five jersey, or if Lee will make his first championship start of 2010.
Galway were fortunate to get a draw last weekend and perhaps the reality check they received will make them realise they must be much more composed and ruthless if they are to collect any major silverware over the coming months.
John McIntyre will have been infuriated to see how his team let a good start slip away by conceding three first-half goals. Those goals were conceded far too easily and any time a team lets in three goals they are going to struggle to get a win.
The goals gave Offaly huge confidence and they really opened their shoulders after those green flags were raised.
To be fair to Galway, the game had been set up for Offaly to come in and deliver a big performance and they did just that.
As John McIntyre pointed out after the game Offaly “fought like terriers”.
“In championship hurling you can take nothing for granted and their tails will be up after that performance last weekend.
“We know they will be very difficult to beat. They caused us a lot of difficulty in the air and they have a very good forward division. Last weekend Offaly played some terrific hurling and that was a combination of two factors. We dipped below our normal standards and they hurled above theirs in the context of the last four or five years. We face another war on Saturday night too.”
Galway came into last Sunday’s game as raging hot favourites against a county that they have always had trouble with. All that pressure and expectation is now gone for this rematch. Allied to the fact that Kilkenny looked unbeatable in their tie with Dublin, and the Galway players should be able to go out and express themselves.
However Offaly do not fear Galway, and why would they? The sides have clashed eight times in the championship, with Offaly winning four, Galway three, and one draw (last Sunday ). They have some very fine players and last weekend Rory Hanniffy, Paul Cleary, Brian Carroll, David Franks, Joe Bergin, young Derek Morkan and Shane Dooley all stood up and delivered massive performances for their team.
This Saturday evening Galway need players to row in behind the leadership of guys like Ger Farragher, Joe Canning, Damien Hayes and team captain Shane Kavanagh.
The Kinvara man was candid in his response to last Sunday’s display.
“It is good to have received the wake-up call. We have to try to get it right for this Saturday. You cannot be making the mistakes we did at inter-county level and get away with it.”
Defensively Galway will have to improve enormously, not alone to win on Saturday night, but if they were to have any chance in a possible Leinster final against Kilkenny’s ruthless forward division who took Dublin for 4-19 in third gear.
Galway did not hit top gear against Wexford and last weekend was a disappointing performance, but anyone travelling to Portlaoise can expect a feisty and committed maroon backlash to last Sunday. Anything less could see the team out of the Leinster championship.