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Home SPORT GALWAY CAMOGIE: (Preview) - GALWAY vs OFFALY (Sunday, 12pm Pearse Stadium) 

GALWAY CAMOGIE: (Preview) – GALWAY vs OFFALY (Sunday, 12pm Pearse Stadium)

Two games in seven days will define Galway camogie’s spring with their first coming in a Salthill double header with the hurlers. 

Tony O’Donovan’s team bounced back from their opening day loss to Cork to pull clear from Tipperary on February 4th in the second half and another victory against the Faithful County will set them up for a winners-takes-all clash in Wexford the following week.

With the camogie league starting earlier due to the GAA calendar changes, any county not reaching the semi-finals in March face a four-month lay-off before championship action in June.

The last time Galway faced Offaly in the summer, they scrapped home 1-11 to 1-8 winners in 2016 but while the Tribeswomen are missing key personnel, the Midlanders are also down numbers and struggled in their two defeats to Tipperary and Wexford.

Siobhan Flannery, Lorraine Keena, Grace Teehan and Jean Brady are not currently involved from last year’s side while Slaughtneil’s Tina Hannon is tied up with her club’s All-Ireland final appearance.

The do possess experience in keeper Eleanor Clendennen, Micheala Morkan, Linda Sullivan and new captain Arlene Watkins.  And new players impressing include Kate Kenny and NUIG’s Grainne Dolan.

Galway are also without All-Ireland club finalists in Sarsfields and Athenry with as many as 10 players cup-tied while five-time All-Star Niamh Kilkenny is injured.  But even though his opening two selections have had a settled look, O’Donovan has given game time to many of his panel.

Shauna Burke and Caitriona Daly both lined out in goals; Roisin Black, Siobhan Coen and Emma Helebert have occupied the defence’s right flank; while Ciara Murphy, Leanne Freaney and Ava Lynskey have been introduced to the attack.

However, experienced campaigners still backbone the team with captain Sarah Dervan, Heather Cooney and Lorraine Ryan anchoring the defence while Shauna Healy played centre back against Tipperary.

Ann Marie Starr is the main midfield lieutenant and Rebecca Hennelly moved from centre back to centre forward contributing six points against the Premier County.

All-Stars Ailish O’Reilly and Aoife Donohue have found the net this year and Niamh Hanniffy is firmly established as a key player following two impressive outings.  With players like Niamh McGrath, Tara Kenny, Noreen Coen and Kilkenny to return before the summer, the panel looks in good stead.

That being said, they’ll have to weather the favourites tag in front of a massive crowd and the ladies’ footballers showed how difficult that was in their loss to Mayo.  But the camogie team have experience of double headers with their male counterparts and should have something to spare by the final whistle.

Verdict: Galway

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