Hurlers need a big performance against Dublin

The Galway hurlers head to Croke Park this Sunday to take on Ger Cunningham's Dublin in the Leinter championship quarter-final (2pm ).

It is a game that Galway have been targeting for the past few months, and Anthony Cunningham’s charges really need a win if their 2015 championship is going to take off. A trip down the qualifiers road is not what this Galway team needs at this juncture.

There is a huge amount at stake on Sunday for both teams, as the winners will face either Offaly or a group winner in the Leinster semi-final on  June 20, and whichever side emerges victorious this weekend, will genuinely fancy its chances of getting to a Leinster final.

There is very little hype about this game for Galway with many maroon supporters  relatively pessimistic about the team's chances of going on a really good championship run this summer.

This year's league campaign was a moderate affair and a defeat to Waterford (away ) finished the league with a bit of a whimper.

Last season's championship also left the supporters scratching their heads and wondering when they would see the good times again. The heady days of the stunning Leinster title victory in 2012 and All-Ireland final clash with Kilkenny seem a long time ago now.

The 2014 championship performances were unsatisfactory. Laois were defeated by 1-22 to 0-23 in O'Moore Park and then the team drew 5-16 to 3-22 with Kilkenny in Tullamore, before losing the replay on a score-line of 3-19 to 1-17 at the same venue six days later.

The qualifiers saw a very disappointing 3-25 to 4-13 reversal in Thurles to Tipperary in early July and the hurlers' season was over before it really got started.

That eight-point defeat to the Cats, followed by a subsequent nine-point loss to Tipp, finished last season on a real low, and supporters will be hoping a win next Sunday will be a catalyst for a few positive championship outings.

Hope springs eternal, and Anthony Cunningham's players  know that if they can produce an impressive performance in three days' time against the 2013 Leinster champions, their season can really take off.

Sunday will not be easy and the Dubs beat Galway in the 2013 Leinster final at Croke Park by 2-25 to 2-13. There is no doubt Galway will be going to Dublin knowing  they must produce the goods to beat the home side.

In the other side of the draw, Kilkenny will probably face Wexford in the Leinster semi-final on June 21.

A criticism of Galway hurling over the past few years has been management's inability to settle on a regular number three and six.

Looking back to that 2013 Leinster final defeat, Kevin Hynes was at full-back and Shane Kavanagh was at centre-back, while in 2014 it was Ronan Burke and Daithí Burke, with Daithí ruled out by injury at the moment.

Hence, it will be interesting to see who will man those positions on Sunday with young Hansbury and Iarlaith Tannion possible options.

It is very difficult to predict what the Galway hurlers will produce on any given championship Sunday. The bookies have Galway as slight favourites at 10/11 with the Dubs at 11/10.

Team manager Cunningham knows that Sunday is a winner takes all situation. And as we have seen in the past, often it is when expectation is at a low ebb that Galway produce a top-class performance.

Galway will look to team captain David Collins, Johnny Coen, Jason Flynn, Andy Smith, Johnathan Glynn and Joe Canning to lead the way on Sunday and, if they play to the top of their game, a Galway victory is  plausible.


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