GALWAY senior hurling boss Micheal Donoghue insists the Tribesmen will be taking nothing for granted as they commence the defence of their Leinster championship crown with a low-key opener against 2018 Joe McDonagh Cup winners Carlow at Pearse Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
When these sides met in the second round of the National League in early February, the contest ended all-square at 0-20 apiece. That said, league fare in February is a far cry from championship action in May and the expectancy is that 2017 All-Ireland champions Galway will not be as forgiving when Carlow arrive in Salthill.
Galway’s top scorer in the National League with 0-57 (0-50 placed balls), Joe Canning is set to miss the Leinster championship with a groin injury and this has left many pondering the strength of Galway’s All-Ireland credentials for 2019.
Not only was Canning the chief source of scores throughout the league, his general play was exceptional. His absence creates a major void and Galway must now absorb the loss of his creativity, power and scoring prowess for their provincial campaign.
On a positive note, Galway did boast of 17 scorers in the National League, including Jason Flynn (1-16, 0-14 frees), Cathal Mannion (1-15), Brian Concannon (2-6), Davy Glennon and Conor Whelan (1-7 each) and Niall Burke (1-6).
This scoring spread did not include Sarsfields Joseph Cooney, St. Thomas’ duo David Burke and Conor Cooney and the United States based Jonathan Glynn, all of whom are expected to return to action for the forthcoming campaign.
Another key player for Galway to miss the National League was Turloughmore’s Daithí Burke. After helping Corofin to back-to-back All-Ireland club senior football titles in March, the dual player is sure to be in great nick.
All-Star Burke will bolster a Galway defence that will have a familiar look about it. Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney and Aidan Harte continue to be pivotal figures while one of the finds of the National League was Sarsfields and Galway underage graduate, Darren Morrissey.
Morrissey was not the only one to impress. Jack Grealish, Sean Loftus and Concannon also showed well in the spring and they should be rewarded with game time over the Leinster round robin series.
Consequently, even despite Canning’s loss, Galway should be a different proposition this summer. Add in the hurt of their All-Ireland defeat to Limerick last August and that should motivate them even further.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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