Galway hurlers to face former boss in Parnell Park

Galway romped to a comfortable 3-28 to 0-20 Walsh Cup victory over Westmeath as the second year of Henry Shefflin’s reign as Galway senior hurling manager got underway in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe on Sunday.

However, a far more intriguing contest comes into sharp focus now as new Dublin supremo Micheál Donoghue takes on his native county from an opposing sideline for the first time in Parnell Park next Sunday afternoon.

Donoghue was an eye-catching appointment on a three-year deal last August after Mattie Kenny stepped aside, and he has reunited the brains trust that led Galway to the 2017 All-Ireland title, with Francis Forde and Noel Larkin joining him as selectors.

Dublin began their campaign with a nine-point win over Antrim with newcomer Joe Flanagan among those to catch the eye with a decent display. Donoghue is well aware of the need to add fresh blood to a Dublin squad that limped out of the Leinster championship last year and he has a 50 strong training panel looking for opportunities to impress.

Shefflin has similar numbers, and began the year with a line-up smattered with experienced campaigners down the spine of the team, but also three debutants in the shape of Athenry’s Eoin Lawless at corner back, Loughrea’s Martin McManus at full forward, and Portumna’s Declan McLoughlin in the right corner forward berth. McManus grabbed his chance, firing in two goals after excellent work on both occasions by Conor Whelan.

Galway had struggled to shake off Westmeath in the opening half, coughing up a couple of goal chances which could have changed the contest had Joe Fortune’s side been more clinical.

Galway managed to take control, with the wind at their backs in the second half, with Donal O’Shea popping over three points from the half forward line and Evan Niland rock steady from an assortment of free-taking assignments.

Shefflin was able to give Walsh Cup debuts to Clarinbridge’s Mark Kennedy, Turloughmore’s Sean O’Hanlon, and Killimor’s Kevin Hanney.

Kennedy finished a nice move to fire in Galway’s third goal, and these sides will meet twice more in Mullingar in the coming months in league and championship, with Galway keen to avoid the pitfalls that befell Wexford last year in the Leinster championship.

While Shefflin understands results are of little importance this early in the campaign, he will be surely demanding higher standards next Sunday, keen to avoid a repeat of the demolition job that Dublin handed out to Galway at this time last year at the same venue.

Elsewhere last week, Eamonn O’Shea and Tommy Dunne guided a Galway development panel to victory in the Connacht Hurling league that took place in the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome in Bekan. A win over New York in the semi-final saw a team made up of junior players from seven clubs reach the decider against Roscommon, where a 1-25 to 1-20 win was recorded.


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