Thursday 23 January 2020

New era for Joyce and Galway starts against oldest rivals

Pádraic Joyce. Photo: Sportsfile. Photo: Sportsfile
Pádraic Joyce. Photo: Sportsfile. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The Pádraic Joyce era starts officially for Galway when they kick off their FBD League campaign on Sunday afternoon and one of his first acts as manager of the Tribesmen has been to hand Shane Walsh captaincy of the team for 2020.

Joyce's maiden team selection also sees the return of former captain Paul Conroy, who makes his first appearance in a county jersey since breaking both his legs against Kerry in 2018.

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However, the Killererin club man has seen his options limited significantly with Corofin's run to the All-Ireland club SFC final, Oughterard's ongoing involvement in the All-Ireland intermediate club action and the Sigerson Cup all affecting player availability.

Joyce's reign starts against Mayo, who also provided the opposition when Kevin Walsh's five-year stint as boss came to an end in Limerick last year.

The likes of Peter Cooke and Danny Cummins have also opted to take the year out in 2020. In all, Joyce has named seven of the side - Gary O'Donnell, Johnny Heaney, Eamon Brannigan, John Daly, Cillian McDaid, Michael Daly and Shane Walsh - that lost to Mayo.

Kevin Walsh enjoyed a productive tenure as Galway manager, guiding them to two Connacht titles and making them a fixture in the top flight, while also helping them to a first competitive win in Croke Park since 2001.

Walsh also turned the tables on their great rivals Mayo and until last summer's defeat, Galway had won seven matches on the bounce in all competitions in games between the sides. Mayo have a number of significant changes of their own for the weekend clash.

James Horan is in the second season of his second coming but they begin life without stalwart and former Footballer of the Year Andy Moran, while defender Ger Cafferkey has also retired, while Ciarán McDonald is on board as selector.

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Like Galway, they are expected to be without a host of players for the Elverys MacHale Park clash.

Star man Aidan O'Shea is on holidays while the Sigerson Cup also means the likes of Matthew Ruane, Fionn McDonagh, Stephen Coen and James Carr, who grabbed a brace of goals when the sides met in the qualifiers last summer, all set to be unavailable.

Oisín Mullin, who attended the AFL combine held in UCD before Christmas, will also miss out as he is on duty with his club Kilmaine in the All-Ireland Junior championship on Saturday.

Galway start their Division 1 league campaign against Monaghan in Salthill on Sunday, January 26 while Mayo take on Donegal in Ballybofey the previous evening.

The sides are set to meet in Pearse Stadium on March 15 and could clash once more should both sides win their way through to a Connacht final.

Galway (FBD League v Mayo) - C Gleeson; C Murray, G O'Donnell, J Heaney; E Brannigan, J Daly, C McDaid; T Flynn, F Ó Curraoin; P Kelly, M Daly, M Boyle; A Varley, S Walsh, P Conroy.

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