Tribesmen make light of injury woes to lay down Cup marker
ANTHONY CUNNINGHAM has admitted that he's down to the bare bones as Galway prepare to host Clare in the first round of the Allianz Hurling League next Sunday.
Such are his current injury woes that the Galway manager could only name a match-day panel of 23 for Saturday night's Walsh Cup final ... and still his depleted troops pulled off a two-point victory over Dublin.
"Much the same set-up for next weekend," he reported afterwards. "We'll be stronger for the second half of the league - but unless we win the first two, there might be no second half of the league for us."
Cunningham then provided a latest update from the Galway casualty ward. "Iarlaith Tannian just came in there in the last 20 minutes - that's his first match since last October/November, he had a bad injury in a club game," he outlined.
"Kevin Hynes is probably going to be another week or two. Conor Cooney comes out of plaster next week. Joe Canning? Probably not going to see him or Conor Cooney until mid-March at least.
"We are looking for more players to come back in and Cyril Donnellan, Niall Healy and Davy Burke (will return) probably second half of March. They've had operations ... you just can't come back with players at this level until they're fully right."
With Cooney out of commission and Canning waiting for his finger (broken against Offaly last month) to heal, Galway have been left with a freetaking void. Not that you'd have noticed, watching Jason Flynn ping over 11 from 12 on Saturday night.
"He's playing Fitzgibbon and under-21 and senior, so he's had to carry a load because we are down to the 23 we named for this match," Cunningham admitted.
"Jason has always been a prolific scorer at underage, absolutely outstanding, and he's a tremendous striker. So he's one for the future."
The year-four boss saw merit in claiming some early silverware. "We said at the start of the year that for us to go winning the league, we wanted to go winning the Walsh Cup; and for us to win the championship, we'd want to go winning the league," he reflected.
"Look, it's a stepping stone. It's a game at Croke Park, a game against Dublin. It was our first real test for the year in getting preparation time for the match against Clare."
Dublin host Tipperary on the same day with their manager hopeful that David O'Callaghan - named to start on Saturday only to be replaced before throw-in by Ryan O'Dwyer - will be available.
"After training the other night his hamstring was a bit tight, and we were not going to risk him really with two league games coming up. We'll need Dotsy to be available … we'd be confident enough that he should be okay for Sunday," Ger Cunningham disclosed.