Galway open their Leinster championship campaign against Laois on Sunday, and Fergal Moore insists his side needs to be extremely professional and focused in their approach.
The Galway captain has been down this road before. And he is not going to start taking anything, any player, or any team for granted at this stage of his career.
“Our motto is to take it one game at a time,” he says. “ And that is exactly what we will be doing next weekend. It is a Leinster semi-final and to be perfectly honest, we are not looking past Laois in Portlaoise next Sunday.”
The game kicks off at 3.30pm in O’Moore Park with Galway installed as 1/50 favourites to advance - Laois at 11/1.
“Laois have two championship games and two wins under their belt against Antrim and Carlow and they will have improved from having those two outings, both of which were in O’Moore Park. They also did well in the league, so we are expecting them to come at us with all guns blazing, and we need to be ready for that challenge,” Moore says.
Galway were due to train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week and the starting team will be based on who is showing well in those sessions, and those who caught the eye in recent challenges against Tipperary, Cork and Dublin.
“Training has been going well for us and our preparations have been good. The management team has a full panel from which to select and competition for starting places is really tough, which is how it should be.”
“It was great to get a run or two out in the club championship, but we are all back in camp now focusing on getting over Laois and trying to get back to another Leinster final.”
The direct route is the best way to go, he says, with the Leinster champions straight into an All-Ireland semi-final.
“No doubt all the teams left in Leinster would like to be in that position in a few weeks and we are no different in that regard. We saw how Limerick surprised a lot of people last weekend when they beat Tipperary in the Munster championship. They battled really hard for each other and really tore into the game and a lot of teams will take heart from their performance and the manner of their win.”
As a result the 2012 All-Star is wary of the challenge Laois can present.
“Laois in O’Moore Park can be a tough proposition and we expect a tough challenge. They have some very good players and they have a few new lads in the panel this year so we are treating them with the respect they deserve. We are just focusing on our own game and doing what we have to do to try to get into the Leinster final.”
While Laois are bidding to reach the final for the first time since 1985, Galway are defending their first crown after last year’s superb 2-21 to 2-11 victory over Kilkenny. Galway and Laois last met in the championship in the 2009 Leinster quarter- final when Galway won by 27 points, but Galway are expecting a tougher assignment this year with Laois, having won promotion to division 1B, enjoying two solid wins over Antrim and Carlow to qualify for the semi-final.
Galway manager Anthony Cunningham is awaiting fitness reports on key players before finalising his starting line-up. St Thomas forward Bernard Burke and Jonathan Glynn are both injured and have been ruled out, while former All Star David Collins remains doubtful after injuring his hand playing for Liam Mellows.