The Galway hurlers head to Walsh Park in Waterford this Sunday (2pm ) knowing they must, at the very least, win to avoid a relegation play-off with an improving Cork outfit to see who will play in division 1B next season.
Even if they do succeed in securing two points, Galway will need Tipperary to slip up at home in their final league tie against Cork in Semple Stadium.
If Galway win and Tipperary win, then the relegation play-off will be based on scoring difference, and Tipperary look destined to win out in that situation as they are currently boast a +8 scoring average with Galway -5.
Galway drew last Sunday in Pearse Stadium with Tipperary by 2-19 to 1-22, but it felt like a point lost.
Joe Canning looked to have struck the winner when he guided a magnificent sideline cut from distance on the right over the bar to push the home side in front.
However, a poor clearance from James Skehill when he had better options to his left, including a free Joe Canning, gave Tipp a lifeline and they equalised with the last puck of the game.
A big problem for Galway is that they started slowly and found themselves 1-3 to 0-1 down within the first few minutes.
The loss of John Hansbury through injury meant Daithí Burke had to be relocated to full-back with team captain David Burke going to number six.
That move weakened Galway at midfield, and while Iarla Tannian did some good things in that department, including his goal, he appeared to run out of puff on occasion and the question of who will be at full-back and centre-back for the summer months has still to be decided.
Slow start hurting Galway
Donoghue acknowledged their slow start needs to be addressed if they are going to go on a good run later in the year.
“We were saying at half time, the last few weeks we didn’t start well in any of the games. We’re working really hard on that with the lads, it’s something we have to work on for the future.”
Galway’s hopes of avoiding relegation are predicated on Cork beating Tipperary next Sunday and Donoghue expects Cork to maintain their levels of improvement as they almost beat Kilkenny last weekend, just going down by a point in a great game by 2-23 to 2-22.
“Cork are a quality side as well. I’ve been saying it throughout the league, division 1 is really competitive. Waterford have had a formidable run, so we know it’s a big challenge ahead of us, but it’s one we’re looking forward to,” said Donoghue.
Galway’s standout performer was the impeccable Canning whose superb first-half goal following a gorgeous cross field pass from the impressive Aidan Harte was one of the highlights of the entire contest.
The returned Fergal Moore also worked hard in the corner and Daithí Burke battled hard at full-back, with Aidan Harte having a productive hour.
Up front Niall Burke shot four points from play, and Jason Flynn also hit 0-3 which was good to see. Conor Whelan found it hard going throughout the contest and it will be interesting to see if he can recover last season's scintillating form.
The bottom line to avoid the play off is Galway must beat Waterford and hope Cork beat Tipp. Expecting both games to go Galway’s way is asking a lot.
Galway: J Skehill; F Moore, Daithí Burke, P Hoban; G McInerney, David Burke, A Harte; C Mannion, I Tannian (1-0 ), A Smith, N Burke (0-4 ), D Glennon (0-1 ), J Flynn (0-3 ), J Canning (1-11, 0-8f, 0-1 s-l ), C Whelan. Subs for Galway:R Cummins for Tannian (54 ), E Burke for Whelan (61 ), P Brehony for Smith (63 ).