Galway taking nothing for granted ahead of Offaly test after defeats for ‘big two’

Niall Burke scoring Galway's first goal past Offaly goalkeeper James Dempsey in the National Hurling League tie between the sides in Tullamore back in February.
Niall Burke scoring Galway's first goal past Offaly goalkeeper James Dempsey in the National Hurling League tie between the sides in Tullamore back in February.

With All-Ireland champions Tipperary and kingpins Kilkenny dumped out of their respective provincial championships, Galway manager Micheal Donoghue insists the Tribesmen could themselves be vulnerable to “a huge upset” if they don’t approach their Leinster semi-final against Offaly at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise this Sunday (2pm) in the appropriate manner.

Cork’s recent victory over reigning Liam McCarthy holders, Tipperary, and Wexford’s rousing triumph over the Cats last Saturday, has not only turned the qualifiers into a war zone, but also, Donoghue believes, put those teams still alive in their provincial championships on high alert.

So, are National League champions Galway – despite being overwhelming favourites to defeat Offaly – just as vulnerable as the other All-Ireland contenders?

“I think so,” says the Clarinbridge man. “I think when you are involved in it, though, you realise that.

“Supporters’ expectations – and how they judge teams – will have changed now by some of the results to date. Some of the teams people were taking for granted have caused huge upsets and got massive results. That is the trend. That is why we always try to prepare the exact same way for every game and always give total respect to our opposition. We will be duly doing that for Offaly as well.”

Since Galway’s 2-28 to 1-17 victory over Dublin in the quarter-final, there has been some movement in the panel. Already, the Westerners have lost defender Paul Killeen for the rest of the season after he suffered a cruciate injury in the last game.

While Killeen will remain with the set-up during his rehabilitation, Gort’s Greg Lally and Turloughmore’s Kevin Hussey have been added to the squad following solid displays for their clubs in the county senior hurling championship.

“Firstly, Paul as a person has a huge influence on the group,” praises Donoghue. “He is a great leader, a great communicator and he is very highly regarded within the group and because of that we are still going to keep him around the whole set-up because he has a huge influence on the group.

“Kevin Hussey and Greg Lally have been brought back in. Just with the injury Greg had last year (cruciate), I think letting him back to the club was the right thing to do as he just needed hurling. And, in fairness to him, he has been doing well. Similar to Kevin – Kevin had a groin injury – both would still be under the eye of our own medical team.”

Donoghue – who says that the management will continue to monitor the club championship in terms of identifying players who can add value to their squad – also confirms that a number of Galway players are struggling with niggles and knocks at present, among them Cyril Donnellan.

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