Boost for Galway hurlers as trio on recovery trail ahead of Laois opener

GALWAY hurlers look set for a big boost as three players who missed last season through serious injury make a return.

John McIntyre enjoyed little fortune on the injury front in his maiden season in charge of the Tribesmen but promising defender Ciaran O’Donovan, versatile wing-back or midfielder Adrian Cullinane and speedy attacker Iarla Tannian, all look set to return in late March.

O’Donovan and Cullinane both suffered cruciate knee ligament injuries, while Ardrahan’s Tannian was also ruled out last spring with a medial knee ligament problem. But all are well on the road to recovery and selector Joe Connolly reckons they could see action in the national league.

“We would expect the likes of Ciarán O’Donovan, Adrian Cullinane and Iarla Tannian to all be back in action by the end of March, while Niall Healy should be back from his knee cartilage injury in time for the league, hopefully by mid-February,” said the former All-Ireland-winning captain.

Galway will play their first game in 27 weeks since losing to Waterford in the championship when they take on Laois at Rathdowney on Sunday in the Walsh Cup. But with injured players yet to return, former skipper David Collins not due back from Australia until next month, lads playing with college teams and the Portumna contingent — eight of the 34-man squad — concentrating on club duty, it will be an experimental Galway side that will take the field on Sunday.

“It has been a long six months since the Waterford match and I suppose there is a bit of unfinished business ahead of us this year. Sunday is the first time we get the chance to start that work. Between Portumna, NUI Galway, University of Limerick and injuries, we are down to about 20 squad members,” added Connolly.

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