Achieving a consistent level of performance is one of the tasks manager John McIntyre believes Galway must embrace, and next Sunday’s Allianz NHL contest with Cork promises to be revealing.
Having suffered a crushing loss to Dublin at Parnell Park, Galway are under duress to claim a victory Leeside against a young Cork outfit. That brings difficulties too as Galway are in the unenviable no-win scenario. Defeat Cork comfortably and it will be dismissed as a hollow success; lose and relegation becomes a possibility.
With 14 Galwegians involved in last Saturday’s interprovinical semi-final in the guise of Connacht, McIntyre was impressed with the pluck shown, highlighting Niall Healy’s last-gasp decision to lash the winning goal.
"Fair play to Niall Healy. He showed a lot of bottle to go for the goal at the end. Galway tend to lose these sort of matches, so it was good to complete the comeback and win it. At the same time, no one will be losing the run of themselves after this, there is a lot to be done," McIntryre said.
Eking out a win against a Munster team packed with experience aided the youngsters who were included in an experimental Connacht team.
That match was identified as an ideal opportunity to monitor the progress of those called into the 2009 panel, and it served that purpose, while also ensuring a trip to Abu Dhabi beckons in mid March.
Much deliberation has surrounded Galway’s Parnell Park loss to Dublin, and the maroons will be anxious to provide a gritty response. Though eventually overturned, Cork have been competitive against Dublin and Tipperary, and will be targeting the Galway match.
Galway certainly have the edge in craft, and providing the minds are willing, a winning total will be posted. John Lee’s impressive Fitzgibbon Cup form for NUIG, particularly his clever shackling of St Patrick’s, Drumcondra, and Kilkenny protégé Richie Hogan suggests a summer return to the inter-county scene might benefit all.
McIntyre has not chosen from a full deck thus far and he will not be afforded this luxury until April as Portumna prepare for the March 17 All-Ireland decider with De Le Salle. Any team deprived the services of so many talented and proven players is bound to encounter some turbulence, so it would be misguided to read too much into Galway’s NHL campaign.
Galway will continue the audition process, and this is crucial especially as Damien McClearn, Andy Coen, Kevin Hynes, and Cyril Donnellan all may prosper by being allowed to settle into the panel.
Fergal Moore, Shane Kavanagh, and Adrian Cullinane possess sufficient ability to guide Galway through this awkward assignment. Niall Healy and Aonghus Callanan have enjoyed productive outings in attack, and with Donnellan showing well also, Galway are blessed with enough finishers to deal with Cork’s expected enthusiasm.