Wexford wobble leaves Galway two lifelines in Leinster

After the worrying nature of their loss to Wexford last week, the Galway senior hurlers have two games left to salvage their Leinster Championship ambitions, beginning up north at Corrigan Park to face Antrim this Saturday, May 18, with throw-in at 2pm.

The unpredictable nature of this year’s championship was emphasised yet again last Saturday when Carlow’s Marty Kavanagh drove over a late free to earn a share of the spoils with injury-hit Kilkenny. The Cats now lie in second place in the table behind Dublin, who were surprisingly comfortable winners over Antrim at home last weekend.

Galway now have no safety net left if they want their season to go beyond May 26; anything less than two wins will almost certainly see them finish outside of the top three in the province for the first time since 2019.

Antrim trailed by only four, and had the elements in their favour after 40 minutes in Parnell Park last Saturday, but ended up on the end of a twenty-point defeat as their challenge crumbled completely and Micheál Donoghue’s side took full advantage. They will surely be determined to prove that their home victory over Wexford was no one-off fluke, and manager Darren Gleeson will have his side primed to produce another big performance for the home faithful when Galway arrive in west Belfast for the second time this year.

When the teams met in the league back on February 25, Galway emerged comfortable 2-35 to 1-13 victors, but notably only five of that Antrim team were in the starting fifteen for the game against Wexford. Key players like Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott, Gerard Walsh, and James McNaughton all absent for the Tribesmen’s visit.

Galway were made to look distinctly average by a highly motivated Wexford side when they fell to a 1-28 to 0-23 loss last time out, an eight-point margin of defeat that could have been more, despite Wexford being reduced to fourteen men with twenty minutes remaining when Cian Byrne was dismissed.

Remarkably, nobody in a maroon jersey managed to score more than twice from play as the absence of Cathal Mannion through injury was keenly felt. Galway are now under pressure to both win and produce a performance that will restore confidence in the group, so it will be interesting to see if Henry Shefflin makes wholesale changes to his first fifteen, or sticks with a tried and trusted formula.

The positioning of both Daithí Burke and Gearóid McInerney as wing backs against Wexford came under some scrutiny, and Galway cannot afford to approach their next challenge with any level of complacency.

Antrim will look to get on the front foot early and put pressure on Darach Fahy’s puck-outs. Galway have struggled under the longer deliveries on their last two outings, but Dublin showed that this can be an area to target.

Galway are still heavy favourites to pick up their second win of the campaign. It will be the shock of all shocks if they do not do so. With Dublin facing Kilkenny, and Carlow hosting Wexford this weekend, the permutations for advancement will become a lot simpler by Sunday evening.


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