The Galway hurlers start their 2012 championship this Sunday when they take on Westmeath in Cusack Park Mullingar (3.30pm ).
Anthony Cunningham’s team are expected to advance handily enough, and the handicap betting on Westmeath is 11/10 at +14, which will have some supporters, especially with the news that there are injury doubts to two key Galway players for the clash.
It is not yet known if Joe Canning or David Collins will be able to line out from the start on Sunday as both players picked up injuries last Monday night in a challenge against Clare.
Collins picked up an ankle injury and is receiving treatment to be right for the game, while Canning who is vital to Galway’s attack, suffered a recurrence of the shoulder injury that forced him to sit out most of the Allianz League - he only got back for the two relegation jousts with Dublin and the management team are giving him as long as possible to recover from the knock.
Cyril Donnellan who scored 3-1 in that win last year (Galway eventually won out by 4-17 to 2-14 ) is expecting a tough physical game.
“We would prefer to be going into the game with no injury concerns and hopefully David (Collins ) and Joe (Canning ) will be okay to play. But we have a big panel and we have all worked hard over the past few months, so if someone is out, there are top class players to come in and fill the spot. Things have been going very well over the past few weeks and it was nice to get a few good competitive games with the club over the last few weekends.
“Hopefully those games, which were very good quality and played at a good championship pace will have brought us all on a bit and that we will be ready for the competitiveness that Westmeath will bring. They gave us a real fright last year and we were very happy to pull away in the end. They have some very good players and they will feel that they have nothing to lose on Sunday and they will tear into it. That said, from our perspective it is important that we produce a good performance and get a good solid win.”
Donnellan who is back in college this year training as a construction, woodwork and technical graphics teacher makes no secret of the Galway panel’s objective in the Leinster championship.
“No Galway team has ever won a Leinster championship and that is what we will be trying to do over the next few weeks. We got to the final in 2010 and Kilkenny beat us (1-19 to 1-12 ), but we want to get back to another final again this year and give ourselves another crack at winning one. Obviously there are some top teams in the province, but that is what we are setting out to do, and Sunday is the first step on that ladder.”
The winners on Sunday are due to face either Offaly or Wexford in the Leinster semi-final on Sunday June 17.
Fógra: The Galway Hurling Supporters Club and Bus Éireann will provide a bus to Cusack Park this Sunday for supporters who want to travel to the Galway and Westmeath game. The details are as follows: Depart Ceannt Station 11.30, Oranmore Community Centre 11.40, Moylans Loughrea 12.00, Haydens Hotel Ballinasloe 12.30, arrive in Mullingar at 2.00pm (approx. ).
The price of the bus is €10pp and the bus will return directly after the game. To reserve your seat by no later than 2.30pm on Friday, text 085 8614084 with your name and pick up point or email; [email protected]