Galway hurlers look to consolidate league lead against All Ireland champs Tipp

John McIntyre’s side will play their last game on home turf for 2011 on Sunday when they take on the All Ireland champions Tipperary in Pearse Stadium at 2.30pm.

When the sides last met in competitive action, in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, the Tipp boys came out on top by a point, 3-17 to 3-16, in an enthralling encounter.

Tipperary play Cork in the Munster championship on May 29 this year and that will already be on their radar at this stage.

They drew with the Rebels 1-14 to 1-14 last Sunday and showed glimpses of their class at stages. Pa Bourke (0-6 ), Noel McGrath (0-3 ) and Benny Dunne (1-2 ) were their key scorers.

However their injuries are starting to mount, and corner back Paddy Stapleton had to be carried off in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

They are already without two All-Stars, Brendan Maher (broken ankle ) and Eoin Kelly (broken finger ), and manager Declan Ryan will not want to see any more of his top men go into the casualty bay.

McIntyre, too, has had his injury problems and he will probably plan without David Collins, who had to be substituted after only three minutes on Sunday with a shin injury.

On the plus side, Joe Canning is making progress and took a full-part in last week’s warm up in Parnell Park. Damien Hayes, too, is keen to get back onto the field of play and talked during the week of taking a place on the bench this Sunday.

Galway are joint top of the table with Kilkenny on eight points and a victory on Sunday would see them with one foot in the league final.

They have been scoring very well in division one and, with 9-90 on the board after five games, they have the best scoring average by far in the division on +39. With those kind of scoring stats, it is no wonder Canning and Hayes are keen to get back raising a few flags of their own.

Despite struggling last Sunday against Dublin, they squeezed home - thanks to a late late goal by Eanna Ryan in the 73rd minute to win by 2-11 to 0-14.

The Killimordaly man showed the impressive poaching prowess for which his namesake and uncle was famous in the glory days of the late eighties to steal in for the winning score.

Joe Cooney also impressed and it was good to see him back on the edge of the square after his thumb injury. The management team has genuine options for Sunday with Iarla Tannian also available after his trip stateside.

Team management has made an impassioned appeal to GAA supporters in the county to come out in numbers for this tie.

“This is the last opportunity to see the team at home this year,” says McIntyre. “ The All Ireland champions are in town and it is an opportunity to see the best teaam in 2010 in action. The stakes are high for both counties and we could have a real thriller. I am appealing to the fans to turn up and rally behind the team this Sunday.”

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