Walsh voices concern over Tribesmen's rising injury list
Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30
Galway will be without some of their most influential and experienced footballers for the start of the Allianz League next week as manager Kevin Walsh manages a growing injury crisis.
Shane Walsh, Finian Hanley, Cathal and Patrick Sweeney, Gareth Bradshaw and Gary Sice are all working their back from injury and surgery during the off season.
On top of that, the departure of Michael Lundy and Johnny Duane to the US has left Walsh with a lot of gaps to fill for the opening two games of the League against Laois away and Tyrone at home.
Lundy and Duane left in November and could potentially end up playing in the Connacht Championship for New York later this year.
Corner-back Cathal Sweeney, who was one of the bigger successes for Walsh in 2015 and faced down some of the game's top forwards, had a groin operation, brother Patrick had surgery on both hips in October, Walsh has been rehabilitating a knee injury for the last two to three months, Hanley has been laid up with concerns over his shoulder and knee, Sice has a hamstring injury, while raiding half-back Gareth Bradshaw is also sidelined.
Midfielders Fiontan O Curraoin and Tom Flynn have only recently returned after injury too.
"We've given Finian and Shane as much time off as they need to get over their injuries. We made a conscious decision to do that, not to rush them," said Walsh.
"We'll know more about Shane in the next 10 days. He could see some time in those opening two games.
"Finian had these injuries throughout last year. Like Shane whether we get anything out of him in those first games remains to be seen. Realistically I don't see many of our injuries coming good by then."
Galway play Roscommon in Sunday's Connacht League final in Tuam, a game which Walsh admits will be a stiff test for a fledgling defence.
"It's a great opportunity for them. We'll probably only have one of last year's Championship defence involved," he said. "But this league has been good to us with three games and now a fourth one and plenty of new faces involved.
"It's a great opportunity for a lot of Galway players on the fringes to make a mark."
Galway are in a very competitive Division 2 that features five Ulster teams, and the importance of that opening game in Portlaoise could not be understated.
Improving their defence is a priority for Walsh with Duane out of the picture and Hanley struggling with injuries that clearly impacted on his ability to influence some games, particularly against the two most destructive full-forwards in the game when they faced Mayo and Donegal.
Galway enjoyed a good start to last year's League with early wins over Meath and Westmeath but lost their way midway through the campaign with a trio of defeats to Down, Cavan and Laois before recovering well to beat Roscommon and Kildare.