Galway will not recall St Thomas’s players for Division One A showdown with Waterford
Draw for Waterford enough to earn semi-final place
Galway’s Joe Canning is the leading scorer in the league with a tally of 2-35. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho
Despite speculation of a recall for several of the St Thomas’ players who won All-Ireland club glory on St Patrick’s Day – including forwards Conor Cooney and James Regan – Galway will be persisting with the panel so far utilised, leaving any further additions or adjustments until after their league campaign concludes, whenever that may be.
In what is one of three pivotal games in deciding who goes on to semi-finals, who stays where they are, and who goes into the relegation play-off, Waterford definitely have the advantage, albeit an unusually slight one: they top the division with five points, and a draw against Galway would be enough to book one of the three semi-final berths (the other coming from the winners of Division One B).
Galway need at least a draw to avoid the relegation play-off, but could yet make the semi-finals themselves if they win convincingly, and the results elsewhere fall their way too.
Not that the Galway management are pressing any panic buttons just yet. Galway did, after all, beat Kilkenny in the first round, lost out narrowly to Clare, then handsomely to Tipperary, before a late strike earned Cork a share of the spoils last Sunday.
So, while an injection of the St Thomas’ players would be useful, they’re not going to rush them back either.
“We were back training during the week, but none of the St Thomas’ players are there yet, no,” Galway selector Mattie Kenny told The Irish Times last night.
“So we certainly don’t expect them to have any of them on Sunday, either. It will only have been two weeks since the club final in Croke Park, and a lot of those players have had a long, hard season. So I’d say it’s more likely we’ll persist with the panel of players that we have until the end of the league, then call them in.”
The four players certain of getting a recall are Cooney and Regan, and also midfielder David Burke, and centre back Darragh Burke – all of whom played a key part in the victory over Offaly champions Kilcormac-Killoughey on March 17th, and with that earn the Galway club their first All-Ireland title.
Cooney underlined his scoring form, hitting 0-5 on the day, and given Galway’s apparent reliability on Joe Canning for scores in their last couple of league games, his inclusion might help make the difference in Walsh Park on Sunday.
Kenny, however, wasn’t being drawn into that debate, and whether or not Galway are still over-reliant on Canning: what is certain is that he tops their scoring chart, and indeed that of the entire league, with his 2-35 (41 points), including 0-10 against Cork last Sunday, when Cyril Donnellan and Davy Glennon were the only other scorers.
Waterford also boast a superior scoring difference to Galway, with -3 to their -10, and in more stark contrast, had seven different scorers in their one-point win over Tipperary last Sunday, including substitute Pauric Mahony, who hit 0-4, all frees.
But all three games, and all six teams, still have everything to play for, the prospect of everyone ending up with five points still alive, should Galway defeat Waterford, and Tipperary-Clare and Kilkenny-Cork both finish in draws.
Meanwhile, the GAA have announced a new sponsorship deal for their post primary competitions, sportswear supplier Masita Ireland unveiled yesterday as supporters of the upcoming All-Ireland series.
It’s the first time competitions such as the Hogan Cup, Croke Cup and Vocational Schools titles have had a sponsor at All-Ireland level, and it’s hoped the partnership will help boost the profile of the historic competitions. The hurling finals are set for Thurles on April 6th, while Croke Park will stage the football finals on April 13th.
Masita Ireland is a family run, Irish business based in Kells, Co Meath and has been involved as a supplier of equipment, clothing and kit to over 250 Post-Primary Schools across all four provinces since 1999.