Galway hoping closed doors open the way to redemption in All-Ireland quarter-final

Public not admitted as Cunningham seeks to bring Tribesmen up to speed to face Clare

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham has warned his players only those who impress in training will be selected for Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Clare in Thurles. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham has warned his players only those who impress in training will be selected for Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Clare in Thurles. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 


The Galway hurlers have become the latest side to close their training sessions to the public, with manager Anthony Cunningham warning his men team selection will be based on how players perform in those sessions.

And he is hopeful a series of red-hot training sessions in recent weeks will have Galway well prepared for Clare in Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles following their collapse against Dublin in the Leinster final.

The gates have been locked at training in Athenry and Pearse Stadium since last week, and Cunningham has been encouraged by what he has seen from his men as they try to bounce back after relinquishing their Leinster title.

“There won’t be any knee jerk reactions from Dublin, but the guys that played in the Leinster final have had to prove themselves again in training.

“It took us 50 minutes to get up to the required championship pace against Dublin, but we still only played championship hurling for about 10 minutes. If we start with that intensity that day that will help us a lot. But Clare have gone out and performed well since their Munster championship loss.

“We won’t be looking too much at the Leinster final, we won’t mull over the analysis of what happened that day. Whoever has performed well in training in the last two weeks will be picked, it’s a simple as that,” said Cunningham, whose side lost by two points to the Banner in league action earlier this year.

Cunningham had mixed news to report on the injury front, with a cruciate ligament injury ending recent call-up Seán Skehill’s involvement with the panel. Otherwise, the Tribesmen’s manager has a clean bill of health.


‘In good shape’
“We are in good shape, hopefully everyone will be okay and it seems like apart from Seán we don’t have anything that will rule anyone out for Sunday as far as we can tell.

“Seán joined up with us lately and picked up a cruciate injury playing for St Thomas. We don’t know how bad it is just yet, we’ll just have to wait and see when he gets all the tests done.

Niall Donoghue is back training with us and he seems to be going very well. He is definitely in contention to start this weekend. But there is a lot of pressure for places to start. We are happy to see how training goes and we will be picking on form from that,” he said.

Sunday will be the first time Cunningham leads Galway into senior action against Clare, but as under-21 manager in 2009, he tasted defeat to the eventual champions, who featured nine of the Clare panel likely to line out in Thurles.

Joe Canning hit 4-7 that day for Galway, but it was Darrach Honan with 2-4 and Colin Ryan with 0-8 who emerged on the winning side after an epic 3-23 to 5-15 extra-time win.

Cunningham is well aware of their talents. “Clare were unlucky to lose to Cork in Munster. They wasted three good goal chances that day in the first half, so there is no doubt they are an emerging team with huge calibre players; they are an exceptional, top-class team.

“They have won two under-21 titles in the last few years and that class is beginning to come through to the seniors. They have the likes of Tony Kelly, Podge Collins, John Conlon and Darrach Honan.

“They are four key men for them and they are hugely talented forwards.


‘No weak link’
“There is no weak link in their side, in my book, and it looks like we will have to be at our best to win the game. It looks like a top-drawer performance is needed from us.

“If we play hard and fast hurling we expect to be in with a good chance on the day. The required performance wasn’t delivered the last day, but at least we have a chance to redeem ourselves on Sunday,” he said.