JOE CANNING will not be parachuted straight back into the Galway hurling team for this Sunday's relegation showdown with Dublin.
Galway's attacking talisman has missed the entire Allianz League Division 1A campaign because of an A/C joint shoulder injury sustained on Fitzgibbon Cup duty in February, and now their management team has poured cold water on a dramatic comeback against the Dubs.
"It's unfortunate for Joe because he had put in such a good pre-season," explained Galway coach Tom Helebert. "He's back training, but he is still some way off a return. Once we have him ready for the championship, that's the main thing."
Sunday's relegation play-off will now start at 2.30 in Tullamore, instead of 4pm, following the cancellation of the planned Division 3A final curtain-raiser between Fingal and Monaghan.
Helebert has insisted that Galway won't divert from their current youth policy. A raft of last year's All-Ireland U21 winners have backboned the team this spring, while three of last year's minor champions - Shane Moloney, Pádraig Brehony and Jonathan Glynn - were called into the panel last week. They also recalled the fit-again Richie Cummins and brought in Niall Quinn, a member of last year's U21 side.
"We felt it would be good to give those players some exposure to this level at this stage," Helebert explained. "With regard to any other players, the Galway club championship is ready to start and we'll be considering anyone who we feel can make a contribution to Galway hurling."
WATERFORD'S Declan Prendergast (30) has announced his retirement from inter-county hurling after ten seasons with the Déise.
DOWN duo Danny Hughes and Dan Gordon have been ruled out of Sunday's Allianz FL Division One semi-final against Cork at Croke Park. Hughes did not feature in Sunday's win over Laois after tearing a hamstring. Gordon is suffering from a broken bone in his foot.