As defending champions following a thrilling victory over Tipperary in last year’s final, the Tribesmen are unable to call on any of that squad. They are also handicapped by the fact they cannot call on any player who plays in their county SHC. Unlike in Cork were junior and intermediate club players who play with the division in the senior championship are eligible for their county team, Galway don’t have that kind of championship structure.
Galway manager Michael Linehan said it’s an anomaly that has to be corrected. “It’s not a level playing field as far as we are concerned, and what is another huge disadvantage for us is the fact that this is our first outing in defence of our title, while Cork have had two championship matches.
“We’ve only had our panel together since early July and had to depend on playing challenge games against local senior teams to prepare the team. Having said all that, however, we have no intention of giving up our title easily and if we are to be beaten Cork will have to play very well.”
Cork coach Sean O’Brien doesn’t subscribe to the Galway view. “They won the title last year under the same conditions which proves they have the talent, no matter what club level they play at. I would be very wary of Galway. Traditionally they are at their best first time out. They have an abundance of talent up there, but we are ready for them.
“We set out our target of reaching the final at the beginning of the season and fingers crossed, we are still on course to achieve that. I will be looking for an improvement on the form shown against Waterford in the Munster final, and if it’s forthcoming, I would be confident of winning.”
Both counties were offered the chance to play the game as a curtain-raiser to last Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final replay in Croke Park, but while Galway agreed, Cork turned it down as several members of their team were subs with the seniors.
Tipperary are concerned about the fitness of John Devane for Saturday’s All-Ireland U21HC semi-final clash with Galway in Ennis (4.30pm). The towering full back picked up a knee injury in training which has been slow in responding to treatment and so team coach Seamus Power has put off naming his team until after tonight’s training. Galway coach John Hardiman, who is adopting a similar policy, will be without Tom Tierney (broken thumb).
Meanwhile, Laois have postponed naming their team for Sunday’s All-Ireland minor football semi-final against Kerry because of injury to two defenders.
Both wing backs Niall Donagher, with a leg injury he picked up in training, and Cathal Fleming, shoulder injury sustained in the win over Tyrone, are both extremely doubtful and team coach Sean Dempsey says he will give the two players every chance to prove their fitness.
GALWAY (IH v Cork): M Garvey (Mullagh); A Burke (Pearses), P Cooney (Killimer-Daly), JJ Shiels (Annaghdown); P Diviney (Beagh), R Leonard (Annaghdown), E Donoghue (Mullagh); B Gantley (Beagh), J Farrell (Craughwell); N Kelly (Tommy Larkins), J Concannon (Killimer-Daly) K Hayes (Portumna); S Diviney (Beagh), F Gantley (Beagh), F McCarthy (Kilbeacanty).