Footballers will have it all to do to beat Down in Páirc Esler

Last weekend's cancellation of the Galway v Laois fixture in Tuam hands the initiative to Down ahead of their clash next Sunday in Pairc Esler (2pm ).

Down had an notable 1-09 to 0-8 victory over Cavan in Kingspan/Breffini Park on Saturday night, while Galway were all geared up to take on Laois, only for the game to fall foul of snow and rain - hardly ideal preparation.

Down had big displays last weekend from man-of-the-match Donal O'Hare, who hit 1-3 (2fs ) from left corner forward, former All-Star Kevin McKernan at number eleven, defender Damien Turley, and the vastly experienced Mark Poland, who was centre-forward when Down lost the All-Ireland final to Cork in 2010.

The two sides last met in the league last spring when Galway beat the Down men who looked very ragged that day by 1-12 to 0-8 at Tuam Stadium. However, similar to Galway, the Down men are under new management this season and they seem to have refocused and found a wee bit of new energy and purpose.

They won their first league game against Kildare (3-13 to 1-15 ) and were beaten at home by John Evan's Roscommon (1-15 to 1-11 ) in round two.

Galway are unlikely to make many, if any, changes to the team that they had selected to face Laois last weekend, unless there is an injury.

That selected team for the Laois game saw Milltown's Michael Martin back on the starting 15, with Killanin's Patrick Sweeney at centre-forward, flanked by Damien Comer and Sean Denvir, with Shane Walsh on the bench.

The Galway half-back line of Gary O' Donnell, Gareth Bradshaw and Paul Varley has impressed in the two outings to date and that good form will be needed on Sunday if the home side is to be defeated.

The clash of Kevin McKernan and Gareth Bradshaw promises to be a very enjoyable duel and one that could have a big bearing on the outcome.

Understandably, the bookies have the home side slight favourites at 10/11 with Kevin Walsh's side at 11/10. The draw is 15/2.

To go to Down's home ground and win would be a terrific boost for Galway and would set them up for the home clash with Cavan on Sunday week (March 15 ) at Pearse Stadium.

The games are coming hot and heavy over the next few weeks for the footballers, and their game with Laois has been re-scheduled for March 22 at Tuam Stadium at 2pm.


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