After two high scoring and trouble-free wins over Wexford and Offaly, the Galway senior hurlers face Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Sunday at 2.30pm.
It will be a significant step up in standard as Wexford were poor and capitulated far too easily in the game in Pearse Stadium, and while Galway impressed against Offaly, Cork will present a tougher challenge.
Denis Walsh’s team defeated Offaly 1-20 to 1-15 in the first round and went down to Kilkenny in Nowlan Park by a single point in round two, 0-14 to 1-10, after a strong second-half fight back.
Galway still have a few injuries and experienced players Joe Canning and Damien Hayes will not be back for a few more weeks.
Wing back Ger Mahon is also out after pulling up in the Offaly game and he is joined on the treatment table by Niall Healy (hamstring ) and Eanna Ryan with back trouble.
Despite the list of absentees, team manager John McIntyre is positive and looking forward to the challenge against the Rebels.
“We have a lot of injuries currently and we look forward to having most of them back over the next few weeks and having more options and competition within the panel,” he says.
“ Some of the guys out injured, such as Shane Kavanagh, are long term, but we will hopefully have a full hand to pick from over the next few months. The positive thing about the last few games is that we have given some game time to different players, some in different positions, and they have done very well. Injuries provide opportunities for other players to lay down a marker and to get established on the team. When a team is winning, it is easier for new players to blend in and we have taken a good few positives from the first two games.
“A few players such as Damien Joyce, Joe Gantley and Fergal Moore are available again and it is always good to see players coming back from injury.”
Galway defeated Cork in last year’s league final and McIntyre knows they will be very eager to turn the tables and get a win on home turf.
“Cork will be very keen to get a victory over us this weekend. We defeated them in the 2009 championship and in last year’s league final, so they will believe they owe us. They battled very well to come back against Kilkenny in the second half and there is plenty of experience, character and talent in their squad.
“However we are looking forward to the challenge this Sunday. We have two wins notched in the league so far, and we would like to extend that to three out of three. The games will be getting tougher as the season goes on and we have Kilkenny at home on Sunday week too, so we will know a bit more about where we are in the next two weeks.
“The mood is very positive in the camp and training is going well, so we will be travelling to Cork hopeful of getting the two points from the fixture.”
The team is due to be selected tonight, but it is unlikely there will be too many changes from the side that defeated Offaly, apart from the positions that are up for grabs due to the injuries to Ger Mahon and Eanna Ryan.