Sport Hurling

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Changing faces of Galway key to revival -- Moore

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

GALWAY'S dramatic improvement since the Dublin game may have raised expectations locally, but history alone indicates that Tribesmen fans shouldn't get carried away before Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final.

"Waterford have a terrific record against us recently, we haven't beaten them since the introduction of the qualifiers," noted former Galway star and TG4 analyst Cathal Moore.

Waterford also pipped them in the last round of this year's league, but it is those three championship defeats -- the 1998 All-Ireland quarter-final, a group qualifier in 2006 and the heart-stopping 2009 quarter-final -- that Moore believes will put Galway on their guard this weekend.

And there is no doubt that the Tribesmen also face a serious backlash from a Deise side eager to prove their Munster final drubbing was a once-off.

"There's no doubt Waterford have a point to prove," Moore said. "If they can get the Tipp game out of their system I wouldn't see more than a few points between us. This will be nothing like the Clare or Cork games."

Yet the Turloughmore clubman feels the experience, and players, that Galway have gained during their four-game run this summer should now stand to them.

There is no doubt that they're in a far healthier place than when scoring just 2-7 against Dublin, a defeat which saw their character seriously questioned.

For the past two years John McIntyre's squad has been decimated with a litany of serious injuries, particularly in defence, that have finally cleared up.

Moore's brother Fergal missed all of last summer with the same ankle injury that kept full-back Shane Kavanagh out for so long. David Collins is another defensive stalwart who has been hit with repetitive injury problems. Against Dublin, Collins was deputising at full-back and Kavanagh was at wing-back, but all three are now manning a much more solid full-back line.

Galway also lost two key forwards -- Iarla Tannian and Ger Farragher -- to injury ahead of the Leinster championship and both were back in time for the Banner clash.

Castlegar's Donal Barry has come into defence at the expense of Damien Joyce; Portumna's Andy Smith has replaced Barry Daly as David Burke's midfield partner; and veteran Alan Kerins, who led Clarinbridge to All-Ireland glory this season, got a late recall to the squad this season and has started their last two games.

Moore feels all those changes have worked but said: "Iarla Tannian's return since the Dublin game was particularly important, he provides a lot of strength to our forward line.

"And Damien Hayes is another who was only coming back to full fitness. He has come right back to himself in the last two games and also seems to have responded brilliantly to being made captain too.

"Playing in Leinster now means that we are into championship action a lot earlier in the season and that has made a big difference in helping us to develop a settled team.

"For once there doesn't seem to be any injury worries this weekend and the team has been so settled in the past two games that I don't expect the management to make any changes.

"In fairness, our backs didn't concede a terrible amount to Dublin (0-19), but the problem was we were not clicking up front," he added.

"Since then we've racked up big scores (4-25 against Clare and 2-23 against Cork) and the big question now is whether we can do the same against Waterford."

Irish Independent

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