Hurlers must ‘smarten up’ for Kilkenny challenge in Nowlan Park

Galway's Andy Smith and Waterford's Dean Twomey and Philip Mahony fight for possession in Sunday’s NHL at Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Andy Smith and Waterford's Dean Twomey and Philip Mahony fight for possession in Sunday’s NHL at Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy

The Galway hurlers head to Nowlan Park this Sunday (2.30pm ) knowing they must defeat the All-Ireland champions to have any chance of reaching the league semi-finals.

Anthony Cunningham’s men are currently fourth in the league table behind Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary following their disappointing defeat by 0-15 to 1-14 against Waterford last Sunday at Pearse Stadium. And it could get worse. If they lose on Sunday, and if Waterford were to beat Dublin in Fraher Field, they will find themselves in a relegation play-off with Anthony Daly’s men.

Taking on Kilkenny is never easy and less so in Nowlan Park, and the Cats will have their claws well sharpened by Brian Cody following their narrow defeat to Cork last weekend.

Jimmy Barry Murphy’s team came late to oust a Kilkenny team that was minus some of its marquee players. Cody will have left his players in no doubt during the week that such a performance was not acceptable by his impeccably high standards. They will relish the chance to put that defeat behind them and they will see Galway on Sunday as an ideal opportunity to finish their home league games with a victory.

Galway were flat last Sunday and their performance against Waterford was in sharp contrast to how they played the previous weekend against Cork.

Said selector Tom Helebert: “We didn’t do the right thing on enough occasions and we struggled from the off. We were not composed, but were flat, and never created any goal chances. The crucial difference between the teams was how the Waterford defence used possession when they came out with it. We struggled to get past their defence and they set themselves up very well at the back.”

Helebert knows Galway will have to improve significantly for next weekend’s clash with Kilkenny.

“We were not good in our use of the ball last Sunday and we must smarten up a lot for Kilkenny next Sunday. Going down to Nowlan Park is never easy and next Sunday will be no different. You can’t coach experience. It all comes from playing these matches and these are the positions we want to be in. We will prepare well for Kilkenny during the week and look forward to the challenge.”

Skehill out

Galway hurling goalkeeper James Skehill will be out for a minimum of a month as a result of dislocating his shoulder last Sunday against Waterford.

Skehill suffered the injury as he attempted to block Shane Walsh when he scored the only goal in their 1-14 to 0-15 win at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

Jamie Ryan (Craughwell ) is likely to deputise for Skehill, with Fergal Flannery (Padraig Pearses ) also in contention.

Fográ: The Galway Hurling Supporters’ Club will provide a bus to Nowlan Park on Sunday , departing Ceannt Station 9.30am, Oranmore Community Centre 9.40am, Moylans, Loughrea 9.50am, and The Square, Portumna 10.10am. To reserve your seat no later than 2.30pm Friday March 30 email; [email protected] or telephone 085-8614084.


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