The Galway senior hurlers head to the Gaelic grounds this Saturday (4pm ) to take on old rivals Cork with a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals at stake.
Based on the fine crowd in Pearse Stadium last Saturday evening and the side’s impressive 17-points win – 4-25 to 0-20 – over the Banner, there should again be a good Galway crowd to cheer the team on.
Nobody in the Galway camp is getting carried away with the victory last Saturday as Clare were very poor defensively and offered little intensity or physicality around the field.
At the back they were second to the ball in most cases and their man marking left much to be desired. It was strange that Clare manager Ger O’Loughlin had made no changes from the defence that conceded 4-19 to Tipperary three weeks ago and it took him until half time to bring on Brendan Bulger who improved things.
That was not Galway’s problem, though, and it was gratifying to see them throwing the ball around and hitting 29 scores over the hour.
McIntyre pleased with win over Clare
Understandably, team manager John McIntyre was pleased by the performance and win.
“It was a big test of character as some people would have anticipated that they would see a dispirited, disorganised, head down Galway team going through the motions. These guys have too much pride for that to happen. And I’m thrilled for them.
“There are a lot of genuine Galway supporters who have not lost faith in this Galway team or Galway management. They know the Dublin match was not a true reflection of form. Thankfully, Galway showed their true colours last Saturday night.”
Galway went back to basics last Saturday and will hopefully do the same this weekend;
Good old fashioned hurling. The ball was moved at speed all over the field and the man in the best position was invariably picked out.
Shane Kavanagh was back to his best position at full-back and confidence stemmed from him at the edge of the square.
Fergal Moore and David Collins did well in the corners and Tony Óg Regan hurled well in the number six shirt. Ger Farragher hit 1-4 on his return from injury and Iarla Tannian was also back up front with gave more balance to the forward line and Damien Hayes was back to his bouncy best.
McIntyre admitted that he and his management team had also gone back to the nuts and bolts in training over the past few weeks;
“We went back to basics on the training ground. There were less cones and less discs and more hurling. Every session we had since the Dublin game has been hurling matches. Last Saturday was only one match. I will be challenging the squad before this Saturday and saying to them – ‘if we can do it one night, we can do it another night’.”
Galway happy to have drawn Cork
In many ways Galway are better off to have drawn Cork rather than Antrim as the team will know that they have to prepare and be right mentally for the challenge posed by Denis Walsh’s outfit.
McIntyre concurs. “The draw against Cork has been a quick shot of reality after the Clare win. We are not getting carried away with that victory and we know that we will have to produce a really top class performance if we are to get by Cork. I was thrilled by the reaction of the players last Saturday evening after they shipped a lot of flak over the previous forthnight and we need them to do the same this weekend.”
There is unlikely to be any change to the Galway team from the starting 15 that defeated Clare, although Iarla Tannian has an ankle problem and Andy Smith and David Burke took knocks. All are likely to be available for selection.
No management team wants to change a winning formula and Galway are likely to stick with the men who produced the goods last Saturday and hope they can do likewise seven days later.
Galway team that defeated Clare: J Skehill, F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Collins, D Barry, T Og Regan, A Cullinane, D Burke 0-1, A Smith 0-1, J Gantley 0-2, G Farragher 1-4 , I Tannian, D Hayes 1-3, J Canning 1-9, A Kerins 1-2. Subs: B Daly for Burke, J Regan 0-1 for Gantley, A Harte for Farragher, K Hynes for Cullinane.