SHANE WALSH is a predictable Galway absentee as the All-Ireland club final shambles rumbles on, but Pádraic Joyce is still able to name 11 Tribesmen who started last year’s All-Ireland SFC final as their Allianz FL campaign begins in Mayo tomorrow night.
Joyce was already resigned to being without All-Star Liam Silke – now based in New Zealand and set to miss all of 2023 – and fellow defender Kieran Molloy who has suffered a long-term cruciate injury.
Even without the controversy that mired last Sunday’s Croke Park club decider, Footballer of the Year nominee Walsh was not going to feature in Castlebar after a lengthy campaign with his newly adopted Kilmacud Crokes. The fourth Galway player who started against Kerry last July but now misses out is Patrick Kelly.
But three namesakes of the latter all make the team for this eagerly anticipated Division 1 opener, with skipper Seán Kelly (named at full-back) joined by his brothers Eoghan (making his NFL debut at corner-back) and Paul (at wing-forward). Salthill-Knocknacarra’s Daniel O’Flaherty is another league debutant at wing-back.
The Kelly siblings aren’t the only Moycullen players involved after their recent conquest of Connacht: Dessie Conneely takes Walsh’s usual role at left corner-forward, while the returning Peter Cooke is a notable inclusion on the bench. Meanwhile, former first-choice ‘keeper Bernard Power of Corofin is also back in the mix, listed among the subs.
This Saturday night derby will be televised live on RTÉ2 with a 7.30pm throw-in.
GALWAY (SF v Mayo) – C Gleeson; E Kelly, S Kelly, J Glynn; D McHugh, J Daly, D O’Flaherty; P Conroy, C McDaid; P Kelly, M Tierney, J Heaney; R Finnerty, D Comer, D Conneely. Subs: B Power, N Mulcahy, C Sweeney, J Maher, B Mannion, M Barrett, P Cooke, G Davoren, R Monaghan, E Finnerty, O Gallagher.