The Galway senior hurlers will have it all to do next Sunday at 4pm in Croke Park when they take on Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Tipperary looked professional and businesslike in their 0-21 to 1-12 victory last weekend in Portlaoise over Offaly.
Eoin Kelly was razor sharp at full-forward for Liam Sheedy’s men and he helped himself to 0-11 (7s, one 65 ). Whoever is picking him up on Sunday afternoon will have to be in tip-top shape and will expect a lot pressure on the ball as it is being delivered from out the field.
Last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists played with the wind in the first half and led by nine points at the break, (0-14 to 0-5 ), and Offaly never looked like reining them in from there.
Others who caught the eye for Tipp were man-of-the-match Brendan Maher at midfield, flying wing-forward Gearoid Ryan, Shane McGrath, who lined out at centre-forward, wing-back Declan Fanning who played deep as cover in front of Dooley and Bergin and David Young. Tipp’s two corner forwards Noel McGrath and Larry Corbett also hit the target.
Tipperary are looking forward to Sunday’s clash and their midfielder Brendan Maher said this week that they are back where they want to be be,
“We are back in the quarter-final. Galway will be a tough test, but any game you play in championship is tough and we know there won’t be much between us.”
Galway manager John McIntyre will know the Tipperary players inside-out and he will be well aware his side will have to improve drastically on their insipid second-half display against Kilkenny the last day out if they are to have any chance of reaching the All-Ireland semi-final.
Expectations are at a fairly low ebb in the county and supporters were left puzzled by the lack of intensity in Galway’s display against the All-Ireland champions.
Next Sunday presents the Galway camp with an ideal opportunity to prove the Doubting Thomases wrong and produce a fiery and committed performance of which they can be proud.
Tipperary clear favourites with bookies
The bookies are clear who they expect to advance and they have Tipp at 4/7 favourites, with Galway the 13/8 outsiders.
Galway selector Joe Connolly has no problem with those odds and understands why many people have Tipp down to win. However he is confident the Galway side selected will be going out to have a real cut off Tipp and giving it their all.
“Sunday won’t be easy, but it is a genuine opportunity for lads to show what they’re made off. We had a few days away last weekend at a training camp [Johnstown House in Enfield] and it went extremely well. Everything we have been doing all year has been about producing big performances in Croke Park and now it is up to the men who are given starting jerseys on Sunday to do just that.”
Things have quietened down on the injury front and Connolly expects the management team to have a full hand from which to pick with the likes of Niall Healy back from a hamstring injury.
“Picking what we think is the best 15 to start and to do a job for Galway is never easy, but that is what we are there for. I have no doubt that whoever gets the nod, and the subs who come on, can produce a display that can see us get into the last four.
“ It is about each line and each individual on it producing a top class performance and each player trying to win his own individual battle. Tipp are a fine side, but we believe that we are too.
“Sunday is about redemption. We expect the lads to go out and do themselves justice. If they play as we know they can, we have every chance of winning. They have worked exceedingly hard all year and next Sunday is about getting some reward for all that hard work. If we play like I know we can, we will surprise a lot of people.”
•Mattie Murphy's Galway minors will commence their championship season with an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting against beaten Munster finalists Waterford at noon on Sunday in Croke Park. These two sides met in the semi-final last year and Murphy's side advanced on a score-line of 2-22 to 1-18. Something similar would be perfect this Sunday.