Hurlers have more at stake when they take on the champions

By next Sunday evening we should know a small bit more about the Galway hurlers’ chances of knocking a rattle out of the 2014 championship after they take on Davy Fitzgerald's Clare in Cusack Park (2pm ) in round five of the National Hurling League.

The Banner men are the current All-Ireland champions and they gave Waterford an awful trouncing last weekend, winning by 5-18 to 0-20.

However the scoreline that made people sit up and take notice was the fact that they led the Déise by 4-15 to 0-4 at half time, with All-Ireland final replay hat-trick hero Shane O'Donnell involved in all four goals.

Clare have already qualified for the league quarter-finals and it will be interesting to see what approach Davy Fitzgerald and Louis Mulqueen take in their team selection, and intensity levels for next Sunday.

Galway have no such question marks over what they need from next weekend and despite their notable 3-16 to 1-19 win over Tipp last Sunday, they need to collect two more points this Sunday if they are to be certain of avoiding a relegation play-off.

Galway were quite impressive in the first half last Sunday at Pearse Stadium and led by 3-08 to 0-9 at half time against a strangely subdued Tipperary outfit.

They lost their way in the last quarter, especially after Iarla Tannian was sent off and, instead of winning comfortably, they gave their supporters an anxious last few minutes as Eamon O'Shea's side came looking for what would have been an equalising goal.

Galway's tactic of playing big Jonathan Glynn in at full-forward reaped consistent dividends and the Ardrahan man was a real focal point for the Galway attack. He took his goal before half time with real confidence and was fouled for Conor Cooney's goaled penalty.

Team manager Anthony Cunningham was in positive form after the game. "It is onwards and upwards for us,” he said. “ We'll have to compete better in the last 20 minutes if we are to be contenders for the championship, which we intend to be.

"We had a lot of young lads out there - they're all learning and will benefit from the experience. We still have a couple of players to come back in, but the few that have come back, such as Niall Burke and Johnny Glynn, did make a difference."

The bookies have installed Clare as 2/5 favourites for the game, with the visitors at 9/4.

Considering Clare have already qualified for the quarter finals and do not have much to play for, while Galway will see the game as a vital clash and one that can definitely push them into the quarter-finals, one would assume the Galway players will be more "up" for the fray.

With that in mind, no doubt a few loyal maroon supporters will chance a bet on their team at those odds.

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