Hurlers edge league opener as both sides blow off cobwebs

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham's synopsis of last Sunday's performance which saw his charges defeat Kilkenny by 3-11 to 0-17 was spot on.

“It was a typical first league match. A lot of cobwebs probably on both sides, but we found it very difficult to pull away when we were in pole position a few times and our hurling was rusty.

“I suppose that performance won’t see us getting past the next day in the league [against Clare in Ennis on Saturday week], but we battled hard. That would be the big thing."

Winning a league match in February, even against the All Ireland champions, must be kept in perspective. As Joe Canning said: "It is February. It is two points. That's it."

The league for Galway this year has much to do with trying to discover a few new players who can wear championship jerseys in a few months’ time. Galway were not too far from breaking the 1988 to 2012 famine last September and two or three new young bucks could make all the difference this season.

Kilkenny have been the best team in Ireland for the past decade, but some of their star men are pushing on a wee bit and there will be opportunities for new teams if they are ready.

Cunningham was pleased with the contribution of some of the players who are getting more game time.

” We’d be happy with some of the new players that we had and their performances. Davy Glennon and Joseph Cooney did well. It’s about finding players as well in the league and we’d be happy from that perspective.”

This Sunday will see Galway take on Munster in the M Donnelly Inter-Provincial Championship final in Cusack Park (2pm ) which is a good game to have in an off-week for the league, according to Galway coach Mattie Kenny.

“The next few weeks we’ve just got to work on ourselves. We knew in January/February that we were a bit behind in our touch and our ball work. We need to bring that part of our game on a bit. But is it only February, and there is lots of time to pick up on these things.”

Apart from a few moments of sheer magic by Joe Canning, including a superb crossfield ball to Damien Hayes that led to his well taken goal, the standard of hurling was moderat. And it is fair to say that three missed frees for Cody's men - two from Richie Hogan and another from Richie Power from scorable positions in the second half - ultimately made the difference.

Having notched three first-half goals, Galway had a good cushion, but they were never able to put on the turbo boost and race away from a dogged Kilkenny outfit, minus King Henry and big Walter Walsh.

"I suppose it kind of put the lads in a false position because the goals were big scores at the time but, at the same time, we only went in at the break with four points scored," Kenny said.

Galway had some good displays at the back with Fergal Moore and Niall Donoghue prominent and Joseph Cooney putting in another good afternoon in the No 6 shirt and getting the TG4 man of the match gong.

Galway: F Flannery, F Moore, K Hynes, J Coen, D Collins, J Cooney, N Donoghue, I Tannian, A Harte, D Hayes, N Burke, J Glynn, N Healy, J Canning, D Glennon. Subs: T Haran 6 for Tannian (31 ), B Flaherty 5 for Healy (52 ), P Brehony for N Burke (67 ).


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