MIDFIELDER Andy Smith will miss Galway's big rematch with Kilkenny in the first round of the Allianz hurling league due to suspension but they are confident of having his Portumna team-mate Joe Canning back in time.
Smith's red card in the Walsh Cup semi-final against Dublin earns a four-week suspension because discipline in the subsidiary Leinster competition is still time-based, unlike the NHL, which is now match-based.
But it still means Smith will miss the Tribesmen's big league opener on February 24 between two sides who met four times last year, including the Leinster final and the two-game All-Ireland final.
Canning was a notable absentee in Galway's one-point loss to Dublin due to the rib injury picked up in the Walsh Cup quarter-final but manager Anthony Cunningham says the forward ace will be recovered in time for the Cats.
"We just didn't want to risk him against Dublin. It's not serious and he should be okay shortly," the Galway boss said.
Elsewhere, Tipperary will have to start the league without versatile defender John O'Keeffe, who broke a finger and will be out for over a month.
The news is also a blow for LIT, who play DCU in a must-win Fitzgibbon Cup fixture this week.
Tipperary's Waterford Crystal final against Clare will take place in Semple Stadium next Saturday night (7.30), which will give them some timely floodlight experience ahead of their NHL opener against Cork, in Pairc Ui Rinn, on February 23.