After impressive victories over Clare and Cork in the last two rounds of the championship the Galway hurlers must take the next step this Sunday in Thurles (4pm ) and put Waterford to the sword in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
The Déise suffered an awful trimming from Tipperary in the Munster final and they will come out with all guns blazing to prove that display did not represent their true worth.
To concede 7-19 was astonishing and Davy Fitzgerald will no doubt make some changes to the side that went down by 21 points the last day out. The Clare man is under a fair bit of pressure after that heavy defeat and he will have his team well primed for Sunday’s maroon challenge.
Galway have an atrocious record against Waterford in the championship and are zero wins from nine championship outings. That is a statistic that needs to be altered this Sunday.
The last time the sides met in championship fare was at this juncture two years ago and Galway fell by the narrowest of margins, 1-16 to 0-18.
However much has changed since then and only five from Galway’s starting 15 that day are likely to start this weekend. Joe Gantley and Alan Kerins came on in Semple Stadium in 2009 and they are expected to start this weekend.
Galway manager John McIntyre knows how much is at stake on Sunday for the players and his management team which is in its third year in charge. There is a great need for Galway to reach the last four this season after suffering two one-point defeats in the quarter-finals of 2009 and 2010.
A win would get Galway back into an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2005 which would represent progress and three championship wins on the trot would do wonders for the players’ confidence and give them real momentum going into an All-Ireland semi-final.
McIntyre is a very experienced hurling manager and he is acutely aware that Waterford will be very keen to raise their game from the Munster final display.
“We know that Waterford are much better than they were in the Munster final. They had a really bad day and the ball seemed to break really favourably for Tipperary,” he says. “They will be out to restore their reputations on Sunday and we know that a team can turn things around after a disappointing championship defeat. Our policy is to ignore that performance by Waterford in the Munster final. We are mentally prepared for a really big challenge from Waterford on Sunday.”
There are unlikely to be any changes to the team that did so well in the Gaelic Grounds in the win over Cork and against Clare in Pearse Stadium and there are no major injuries to report.
Training has been going well and the competition for starting places has led to some really good training sessions over the past few weeks. All is in place for another positive display this Sunday.
Minor hurlers face Antrim
The All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship quarter-final between Galway and Ulster champions Antrim is fixed for Parnell Park, Dublin at 3pm this Saturday.
Galway also played Antrim at that venue in 2004 and 2009 and Mattie Murphy's charges will be expected to advance from this tie.