Galway must hit ground running, warns Cunningham
LEINSTER hurling championship hopefuls Dublin and Galway know they both face a tough test when Munster raiders come calling on Sunday.
Tipperary, last year's All-Ireland finalists take on Ger Cunningham's Boys in Blue at Parnell Park, while Clare travel to Pearse Stadium for a test of Galway's mettle.
On week two of Division 1A the Dubs will face Kilkenny, while Walsh Cup winners Galway take on Tipperary. No wonder Galway boss Anthony Cunningham hopes his troops have something positive to play for by March 22, when they play Dublin again.
Galway will be without Joe Canning until "probably the second half of March" revealed Cunningham who added that their star forward has had two pins inserted in his little finger. Nevertheless, a good start will be vital if Cunningham's men are to have any hope of challenging for the League title.
In the circumstances, a strong start at home against the Banner is mandatory, and he will depend on key players such as Jonathan Glynn, Jason Flynn and James Regan to maintain their Walsh Cup form.
The return of Iarla Tannian who came on as a second half substitute on Saturday, is also a boost. Tannian had been out since before Christmas.
Cathal Mannion and John Hansbury return from NUIG duty.
While Galway await the recovery of Canning, Cooney, Cyril Donellan, Niall Healy and Davy Burke, they will rely on much the same squad that was on duty for the Dublin game.
Cunningham name-checked some of those younger players who have chances to stake their claim for places, mentioning Padraig Mannion, Ronan Burke, Eanna Burke, James Regan, Brian Molloy and Paul Killeen.
"We'll have much the same set up for next week-end. We'll be stronger for the second half of the league but unless we win the first two matches, there might be no second half of the league for us," said Cunningham.
Parnell Park proved a happy hunting ground for Dublin last year, with victories over Clare and Kilkenny in their two home matches in the regular series.
New manager Ger Cunningham's immediate priority is to see the Dubs maintain their good form.
"It will be difficult conditions in Parnell Park on a tighter pitch, a smaller pitch. We'd be disappointed at losing to Galway, but it's heads up now and look forward to Sunday," he said.
Dublin talisman 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan is expected to return after incurring a slight hamstring strain.