Cunningham urges Galway fringe men to make impact
Galway hurling boss Anthony Cunningham says he'll be throwing the net far and wide to give a host of newcomers a chance to fill the large number of vacancies in his squad.
The Tribesmen will be seriously under-strength when they open their season against Offaly in Tullamore on Sunday in the Bord na Mona Walsh Cup.
Iarlaith Tannian, David Burke, Cyril Donnellan, Shane Kavanagh and Niall Burke are all in their casualty ward, and Galway will also be without Joe Canning and the Portumna contingent while they pursue All-Ireland club glory.
Cunningham is hopeful that most of Galway's injuries will clear up in time for the start of the Allianz Hurling League, but Niall Burke is one whose competitive debut could yet be delayed.
The Oranmore-Maree clubman, who alternated between centre-forward and corner-forward last summer, is back training after getting some work done on a calf problem.
But it will need surgery at some stage and, if it does not respond to the latest treatment, that operation could be required sooner rather than later and keep him out for an extra month.
"Given the number of people out at the moment we'll be giving a chance to a lot of people in the coming few weeks and there's a huge opportunity there for some players to show us what they've got," Cunningham said.
Galway's back-room has also changed substantially in the off-season, with Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny stepping down and being replaced by Eugene Cloonan and Damien Curley.
Elsewhere, Conor Mahon is due to return to Offaly football training this week -- he and Colin Egan are the only county dual players expected to be involved with them in the near future.
Several of Offaly's best hurlers were called up by football manager Emmet McDonnell last summer once they were out of small-ball action with the county but they are not even available yet to new hurling manager Brian Whelahan.
Daniel Currams is still recovering from a shoulder injury, Sean Ryan is out with a groin complaint and Shane Dooley is also sidelined and not expected back until March.
One of the county's best footballers, Anton Sullivan, is back training after shoulder surgery but is unlikely to return until the third round of the National League.
"Anton's not far away, he's working exceptionally hard and it's just about getting the strength and confidence back in his shoulder," said McDonnell.
"But his return is still a little bit down the road. There's a three-week break after the Wexford and Cavan games and hopefully he'll feature after that."