Galway hurlers now start the serious business

Banner men first up in Allianz NHL in Pearse Stadium

The Galway hurlers will take on the 2013 All-Ireland champions Clare in the first round of the National Hurling League in Pearse Stadium on Sunday (2pm ).

Anthony Cunningham’s men have enjoyed a good run of preparation for this first league match and that culminated with a win last weekend in Croke Park in the Walsh Cup final over Dublin - the game ended 1-22 to 1-20.

James Regan scored a late goal and point to edge the game Galway’s way.

While it was nice to win, the team manager was not getting carried away.

"The win was a stepping stone. It was a game at Croke Park, and a game against Dublin. It was our first real test for the year in getting preparation time for the match against Clare next Sunday which will be a serious test.

"No more than ourselves, they will be disappointed with last year’s championship and they will want to lay down a marker for the new season on Sunday, so we are not under any illusions about the challenge that lies ahead.”

Cunningham also outlined his desire to have a good run in the league.

“When you sit down at the start of the year, the Allianz Leagues are now so competitive you want to do well. Tipperary and Kilkenny were in the league final last year and over the last 10 to 15 years, it's the teams that get to the league final that invariably finish up in Croke Park on the first Sunday in September.

“The Walsh Cup went well for our new players, but the proof of the pudding for us will be this Sunday against Clare in Pearse Stadium.”

Disappointing news is that the team will be without Joe Canning for a fair few weeks as a result of his fractured finger - probably the second half of March before he is match fit.

“He has a bad enough fracture on his small finger. It was an accident and that happens. It's unfortunate for Joe and we would like to see him play all the league matches. He's very disappointed, but we just have to get on with it.”

With Gort’s exit from the All-Ireland series at the hands of Ballyhale last Saturday, a few of that squad should be able to come on board to give the management team additional options.

A good crowd is expected at Pearse Stadium this Sunday to see a relatively new-look Galway outfit take on a team which is likely to be littered with big names such as Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin, Shane O’Donnell, Colin Ryan, Patrick Donnellan, Conor McGrath, David McInerney and Brendan Bugler.

Galway are 11/10 to win, with Davy Fitzgerald’s men slight favourites at 5/6. It is 10/1 for a draw.

Galway v Dublin: C Callanan, R Burke, F Moore, P Mannion, J Coen, D Collins, G McInerney; J Cooney, E Burke; D Higgins, J Glynn, P Brehony; J Regan, J Flynn, B Molloy. Subs: C Flynn, I Tannian, P Killeen, G Kelly.

Scorers: J Flynn 0-11 (11f ), J Regan 1-4, D Higgins 0-2, P Brehony 0-1, J Cooney 0-1, B Molloy 0-1, P Mannion 0-1, C Flynn 0-1.

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