Galway footballers head to Celtic Park for NFL opener

Every journey must have a starting point and Alan Mulholland’s reign as Galway senior manager takes its first tentative steps on a national stage when his young side takes on Derry in round one of division two of the National Football League on Sunday at 2.30pm.

Salthill’s Finian Hanly was announced yesterday as team captain for the new season, and the management team will be looking to his experience to keep a well organised defensive and to show a top-class example to the younger players on the panel.

The Galway team was due to be announced last night (Wednesday ) and many of the players who showed good form in the FBD will be given starting jerseys for Sunday’s tough opener.

At the back the likes of Hanly, Colin Forde, Gary O’Donnell and Gareth Bradshaw will be expected to show power and leadership and keep the Red Oak men at bay. Ballinasloe’s Keith Kelly also caught the eye in the FBD and will be in contention to start alongside the likes of Gary Sice, Johnny Duane, Kieran McGrath and Tomás Fahy.

U-21 stars from last year, Tomás Flynn and Fiontán Ó Curraoin, will probably be given an opportunity to cement a partnership at midfield, while up front Nicky Joyce, Mark Hehir, Michael Martin and Paul Conroy will be in the starting 15.

On the injured list for Sunday are Niall Coleman (quad ), Micheal Boyle (hamstring ), and Joe Bergin and Seán Armstrong who are finishing rehabilitation programmes and should be available for later rounds in the league.

Meehan’s injury

The news on Michael Meehan’s injury is not positive.

Unfortunately the Caltra star’s’ inter-county career has been cruelly interrupted by a succession of serious injuries over the last three years, and the underlying cartilage problem in his ankle injury, dating back to the 2010 championship, is threatening to derail his plans once again.

“It’s a management issue for Michael now,” Mulholland acknowledged during the week.

“Whether he can play intercounty football carrying this injury is the big issue. But Michael has been an example to the whole panel. He has been training infrequently (with the squad ), yet he is probably training harder than anybody else. He is working on his own extremely hard. But we’ve got to treat it as a bonus if Michael togs out for us in the championship this year.”

Mulholland also confirmed at the launch of the Allianz Leagues that he intended to speak to Padraic Joyce over the coming days.

The three-times All Star with Galway has yet to indicate his intentions for the 2012 season, but Mulholland is keen to have him on board.

“I’m not putting any severe pressure on Pádraic. I realise that when you are in your mid-30s it takes a bigger effort than ever to get into the shape that you need to be in in the modern game. I’m going to talk to him and see where he is on that.

“There’s no rush to get him in. We’d love to have him available for the championship and we will take the league for him to see whether he has the desire and physical ability to [play]. Pádraic, again no more than Michael (Meehan ), has had a few injuries over the last while and has been carrying a bit of that.

“Obviously you want your best players available to you and Pádraic is one of the best, if not the best, that Galway has had for the last number of years.”

For now though the priority is to try to get something out of Sunday’s trip to Derry. It will not be easy up there and the bookies have the home side as 4/6 favourites, with the Tribesmen at 6/4.


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