Galway All-Star staying grounded ahead of championship clash with Offaly

Galway's All Star attacker Conor Whelan who will be a key figure for the All-Ireland champions against Offaly in Tullamore on Saturday evening.
Galway's All Star attacker Conor Whelan who will be a key figure for the All-Ireland champions against Offaly in Tullamore on Saturday evening.

BY DECLAN ROONEY

HE took the championship by storm last year and was crowned the All-Stars Young Hurler of the Year, but Conor Whelan is not looking past the challenge of taking on Offaly in Saturday evening’s opening round of the Leinster championship at O’Connor Park

The All-Ireland winner insists that the Tribesmen’s first priority is plotting a way through the ultra competitive Leinster hurling championship as they set about defending their Liam McCarthy Cup crown.

Galway missed out on promotion to Division 1A of the National League once again this spring but last year’s league, Leinster and All-Ireland winners will look for a change in fortunes when they launch their championship campaign against an improving Offaly.

Whelan admits that there was plenty of disappointment in the Galway camp after they failed to earn promotion again, but all eyes are trained on their round-robin opener against Offaly, a side they defeated by 11 points in the league.

“Promotion was a big goal for us. Obviously everybody wants to be in Division 1A and that’s at the top table, but that’s just the way it worked out and we’re just looking forward now,” said Whelan, who won’t turn 22 until October.

“Then we went down to Wexford and were beaten by a better team on the day. That’s just the manner of how it goes. They’ve really upped their game. Just looking at the league, Wexford are a very impressive team and play a nice brand of hurling.

“We are not taking anything for granted and we know Offaly will be strong and physical on Saturday. It’s the first championship day of 2018 and something to look forward to and it’s where you want to be. The winter months are over now and we’re looking forward to championship.”

Both the Leinster and Munster provincial championships have been revamped ahead of the summer, and after their opener against Offaly, Galway have a bye week before they welcome Kilkenny to Pearse Stadium for their first Leinster championship game at the venue.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.