O Curraoin back in contention for qualifier test with AntrimJuly 6, 2012 - 7:00am
GALWAY footballers expect to have almost a clean bill of health for the long journey North to Casement Park, Belfast, on Saturday week (3pm) with manager Alan Mulholland looking forward to the chance to make up for the disappointment of their Connacht semi-final defeat to Sligo.
Captain Finian Hanley has recovered from a shoulder ligament injury that forced him to retire from the Sligo match while midfielder Fionntán Ó Curraoin is also back to full fitness.
Ó Curraoin’s return will provide Mulholland and his management team with another midfield option – however Annaghdown’s Niall Coleman is ruled out with a knee injury.
Caherlistrane’s Cormac Bane has taken a break from the panel but apart from that, and the injury enforced absence of Coleman, Galway will be picking from quite a strong squad.
Antrim mightn’t be regarded as being among the ‘big hitters’ of Ulster football but they are still a ‘handy’ side and for a large chunk of their Ulster quarter-final clash last month, they looked set to overcome Monaghan, until one Tommy Freeman intervened.
Since then, Antrim overcame the challenge of London on a 2-11 to 2-9 scoreline, but Galway boss Mulholland knows that the trip comes with its own dangers.
“If there is one thing that last Sunday’s results showed – with Roscommon beating Armagh, Meath defeating Kildare and Wexford putting it up to Dublin – it is that on a given day, any team is capable of beating any other team.
“Of course we were desperately disappointed to lose to Sligo in Pearse Stadium and it is probably just as well that we didn’t have a really quick turn-around afte that match. We’ve had time to re-group and bounce back from that setback,” said Mulholland.
Since then, Galway played Clare in a challenge, losing out narrowly, while during last weekend’s training weekend in Cork, they also had a good run-out against the home side.
“The preparations have gone well for us and we had a really good training weekend in Cork, but it’s the real thing for us up in Belfast.
“I suppose the one thing we’ve lacked so far this year is consistency. We’ve had a few very good performances in the league but some of ‘the other ones’ as well – even against Sligo we looked to be in control in the first half but let it slip after that,” added Mulholland.
It is likely that Galway won’t name their team until later next week but there are plenty of options available with the likes of Diarmuid Blake, Fionntán Ó Curraoin, Padraic Joyce and Michael Meehan all pushing strongly for starting places.
Roscommon have again enjoyed a home draw for their Round 2 tie against Tyrone while Leitrim will entertain Wicklow at Carrick-on-Shannon.