Galway hurlers must produce the goods

The Galway hurlers face their first major test of the 2011 championship when they play Dublin in the Leinster championship semi-final on Saturday evening in O’Connor Park in Tullamore (7pm ).

It is the first time the sides have met in the championship since Dublin’s two-point win in the 1941 All-Ireland semi-final. Seventy years later, and again the stakes are high.

The Galway supporters want to see evidence of genuine progress with the team and a victory on Saturday will provide another chance of a first Leinster title for the Tribesmen.

The time for talking is over, and the management team led by John McIntyre will have stressed the need for a good performance and the need for a win to their charges.

A date in the Leinster final against Kilkenny is up for grabs and a chance to get directly into an All-Ireland semi-final.

Galway were less than impressive in their 4-17 to 2-14 victory over Westmeath two weeks ago, but that lethargic display is now irrelevant in the context of getting a win over the 2011 league champions.

Dublin have been a revelation under the guidance of former Clare hero Anthony Daly and they have been the hurling story of the season thus far.

They won the Walsh Cup, gave Kilkenny a hiding in the league final, and although they did not play particularly well, they beat Offaly in the first round of the Leinster championship on a score-line of 2-21 to 1-19 in Parnell Park.

Daly was an inspirational captain for Clare in their All-Ireland wins in 1995 and 1997 and he has his team playing a physical and high intensity game. They are very athletic and, having seen them first hand in the league final against Kilkenny, they do not stand on ceremony.

Unless Galway match them in the physical stakes, they will find themselves on the back foot.

The more recent games between the two sides have been tough and close.

Saturday evening is unlikely to be any different.

Farragher and Tannian are not fully fit

Saturday evening’s clash is expected to be a few weeks too early for Ger Farragher and Iarla Tannian to be available for selection despite both men having resumed training. However the positive news is that both Joe Canning and last year’s captain Shane Kavanagh are available to start. The team was to be picked after last night’s (Wednesday ) training session. Tony Óg Regan is also back to full fitness and available for selection too and Eanna Ryan will also be pushing for inclusion.

Dublin are expected to be able to pick their regular full-back Tomás Brady who missed the quarter-final win over Offaly with a medial knee ligament injury. The Na Fianna player came through a full training session last weekend unscathed and is set to return to full back duties for this clash which is a plus, according to Anthony Daly.

"Tomás is a big, strong guy,” Daly says. “ The likelihood is that [Joe] Canning will be full-forward for Galway. Tomás looks the ideal man to go in and mark him. He would have no issues there strength-wise. He's very, very fit. We would be hopeful that he could go in there and do a job for us."

However Daly has his injury worries too and his first-choice centre back Joey Boland is set to miss out again as he still has not recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in the NHL final victory over Kilkenny.

Dublin are strong around the middle third with the likes of team captain John McCaffrey, midfielder Liam Rushe, and a possible half forward line of Conal Keaney, Ryan O’ Dwyer and Conor McCormack.

If Galway are to advance to face Kilkenny, they will need to disrupt those supply lines and stop Dublin winning primary possession in that area.

The bottom line is this: Galway set themselves the target of winning the Leinster title this year. They have to win two games to achieve that objective.

Part one is on Saturday evening and if Damien Hayes, Cyril Donnellan, Joe Canning and Aonghus Callanan get enough supply, they should have the fire power to see Galway advance. If that supply does not arrive, than Dublin will be hard stopped.

*The game is live on RTÉ and if you fancy a punt, Galway are slight favourites at 4/5, with Dublin at 6/5. The draw is 10/1.


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