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Leinster title would be huge bonus -- Burke

WINNING a Leinster title would be a "huge achievement" for Galway, according to star midfielder David Burke, WRITES DONNCHADH BOYLE.

Westmeath boss Brian Hanley described Burke as "one of the finest hurlers I have ever seen" after Galway's less than convincing win over the Lake men almost a fortnight ago and with Dublin standing between them and a place in the provincial decider, the St Thomas man insists the front door is the best way to go.

"Winning a Leinster would get you straight to the semi-final and I see that as a huge bonus," he said. "I can't see why some teams see it as 'only a provincial title.' Winning it is a huge achievement and you're in an All-Ireland semi-finals straight away. The less games the better."

Galway's preparations haven't been ideal. Iarla Tannian (thumb) and Ger Farragher (knee) have been ruled out of Saturday's clash with the Dubs, while Ciaran O'Donovan (shoulder) and Niall Donoghue (calf) are also out.

Joe Canning is expected to start and take over the free-taking duties that caused some problems against Westmeath. Shane Kavanagh and Tony Og Regan are also available for selection for John McIntyre's side.

Dublin will be expected to unleash the fit-again Tomas Brady to keeps tabs on Canning, but Joey Boland is unlikely to feature as he continues to struggle with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, Laois hurling manager Brendan Fennelly has made three changes from the side that lost to Antrim in the Leinster championship last month for the visit of Cork to Portlaoise on Saturday.

Brian Smith (travelling) and Brian Stapleton (collarbone) are unavailable, with Brian Campion filling in at full-back after recovering from a hand injury and Conor Dunne starting in the No 4 shirt.

Ger Reddin has shaken off an ankle injury in time to take his place at centre-forward, with Owen Holohan making way as Noel Costelloe shifts to wing-forward.

Laois (SH v Cork) -- P Mullaney; JA Delaney, B Campion, C Dunne; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, B Galvin; J Walsh, S Burke; N Costelloe, G Reddin, W Hyland; B Dunne, N Foyle, J Brophy.

Irish Independent