Galway footballers face tough opening test away to the Royals

Honesty is the best policy. And to that end, it is fair to say that many Galway football supporters are a tad apprehensive about the National Football League season ahead.

Galway face a tough division two campaign over the coming two months. They are away for four of their games - so there will be nothing easy. Plus, some of the opposition to be faced have genuine pedigree.

Donegal were All-Ireland champions in 2012, while Monaghan are the current Ulster champions, and travelling to Clones to face them will be a tough nut to crack in round seven.

The league promises to be a hardy enough road with points at a premium, and it kicks off this Sunday in Navan against Meath (2pm ).

Galway manager Alan Mulholland and his two new selectors Paul Clancy and Declan Meehan know their panel is currently below par due to a host of injuries to Gareth Bradshaw, Michael Meehan, Gary O' Donnell, Danny Cummins, Keith Kelly and Conor Doherty, while Colin Forde has emigrated for work reasons.

Despite those injuries, Mulholland is upbeat and positive, and looking forward to Sunday's clash.

"We need to be playing top-class teams to know where we stand and division two is a very competitive division. There will be no easy games in this division and we are targeting some points from our first two games against Meath and Donegal (home ).

"We are looking for a bit of a spark to get the season going well and hopefully, if we can put a few good performances together, we can get on a bit of a run. It would be great to start the league off with a win, and two points on Sunday."

The Galway team is due to be finalised tonight (Thursday ) and should include team captain Paul Conroy, Manus Breathnach, Finian Hanley, Donal O' Neill, Johnny Duane, Joss Moore, Gary Sice, Seán Armstrong, Michael Martin and recent recruit James Kavanagh.

Some of the younger brigade, players such as Shane Walsh, Adrian Varley, Tom Flynn and Fiontán Ó Curraoin will also probably be involved. These four men won All-Ireland u-21 medals last season and all saw action against Cork at Croke Park in the championship, so hopefully they can step up a bit more in 2014 and become regulars on the side.

Galway took on Longford last Sunday in a challenge that ended in a draw, and a group of last year’s u-21s were involved, including Damien Comer, Cathal Mulryan and Paul Varley.

Meath, meanwhile, went down 1-10 to 0-9 to Kildare on Sunday in the O'Byrne Cup final at Newbridge. Meath were without a few of their normal starters in that tie.

They are managed again this year by Mick O' Dowd, who is in his second season, and Kevin Reilly is their captain. Interestingly, just eight players who started the infamous 2010 Leinster final which they won against Louth, are still on their panel.

The bookies are in no doubt who they expect to win and they have the home side at 1/2, with Galway available at 2/1 to collect the two points.

Mayo kick off against Kildare

Elsewhere James Horan's Mayo face Kildare in Newbridge in a division one clash. Mayo are down a few players from their 2013 All-Ireland starting 15, - Seamie O' Shea, Donal Vaughan, Alan Dillon, Cillian O' Connor - while the Castlebar players are club tied.

However Horan is impressed with some of the new faces on his panel and has stated his objective of having a good run in the league, so that should be an interesting clash.

In division three Sligo face Limerick at home, and John Evan's Roscommon are away to Longford.

FBD winners Leitrim are at home to Antrim in Division four.


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