In a new series on the Littlewoods Ireland Blog, we will be shining a spotlight on each team competing this summer in the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. First up are the current All Ireland Champions, Galway.
They won a treble of trophies, the League, the Leinster Championship and the All Ireland. To top that off, then came seven All Stars in November, including Player of the Year for Joe Canning and Young Player of the Year for Conor Whelan.
Things are looking bright in the West
And things are off to a pretty good start in 2018 as well as across the board.
Corofin were crowned All Ireland Football Club Champions. The Galway footballers won every league match apart from the final which they narrowly lost out to Dublin. Their Camogie team made it to the semi final stages of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League and NUIG were in the Sigerson final, which they lost out to UCD.
All and all, things are going well down in the West.
So going into the summer and looking to the Championship, Galway should be feeling both strong and confident.
2 in a row?
But what is in store for their hurlers? Will they be able to defend the All Ireland title they won last year?
Their league campaign wasn’t their strongest by any means. Galway remained in Division 1B this year as they were pipped to promotion by Limerick.
Though we have to remember they were down a few key players. Joe Canning and David Burke missed much of the League campaign. Goal keeper Colm Callanan was side lined due to injury, and All Star defender Daithí Burke was largely absent due to his football commitments with Corofin.
The Tribesmen were given a major boost last week when it was announced that Johnny Glynn will be based at home this year to help try and defend their titles. Glynn was living and working in New York last year, and made regular commutes home to line out for Galway. He had a place on the All Ireland winning starting fifteen.
Room to Improve
A weak point of Galway is perhaps the lack of goals they score.
Scoring goals doesn’t win matches, and a tally of points can make all the difference in a game but in May and June of last year throughout the Championship, Galway didn’t score any goals.
Understandably, it is a difficult thing to do when you are up against teams that play defensively and have sweepers, but Galway star Padraic Mannion admits that it would make a difference.
Speaking to Extra.ie he said, ‘That’s definitely one area that we would try to improve. I suppose if you can win games scoring points, you’d take that as well. If you go the whole year without scoring a goal and you’re still winning games, you’d take that.’
Galway’s highly-rated trainer Lukasz Kirszenstein will also remain on their background team. Rumours had circulated that he may be moving to Munster Rugby, but he remains with the Tribesmen. Another definite boost for Galway.
In the opening round of the Leinster Championship, Galway will face Offaly in Tullamore on the 12th of May. The weekend after this match is free, but it will then be followed by three consecutive matches against Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin.
The new championship format will test each team. With teams playing games consecutively, it means that if injures occur, the entire panel will come into play. Michéal Donoghue used a lot of players last year, so he will know the variety and range of players he has on hand.
Galway have huge targets for 2018. They are still relatively young team, which leaves plenty of room to improve and grow further. They enter this incoming season as red hot favourites to maintain the silverware they collected last year.
The upcoming Championship will definitely be one that won’t disappoint.
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