GALWAY GAA: (Preview) – GALWAY vs OFFALY (Sunday, 2pm Pearse Stadium) 

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23 April 2017; Galway captain David Burke, left, and Jason Flynn celebrate with the cup after the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final match between Galway and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

After a week’s break, Galway’s senior hurlers are back in league action on Sunday when they entertain Offaly in their third outing in Division 1B. 

In a double header with the two counties’ respective camogie teams (12pm), Micheal Donoghue will be seeking a third win as they look to return to Division 1A.

The reigning League and All-Ireland champions have shown their rustiness in hard earned wins against Antrim and Laois but two further weeks training should see the Tribesmen start to show signs of their 2017 form.

Joe Canning, David Burke, Gearoid McInerney and Corofin’s Daithi Burke remain out but other names from their historic year have started to make an impact.

Conor Whelan struck two goals as they managed to lead Laois at half-time on February 3rd before Padraic Mannion, Aidan Harte, Joseph and Conor Cooney penetrated the scoreboard as they ran out 2-18 to 0-17 winners.

Offaly began their campaign with a first win in Croke Park since 2005 defeating Dublin but were brought back down to earth in their 1-24 to 0-10 loss to Limerick the last day.

Damien Egan was the scorer-in-chief for Kevin Martin’s team but Shane Dooley did make a second half appearance and will be expected to start in Salthill.

Offaly will want an improved showing against the team that beat them by 19 points in the 2017 Leinster semi-final.

Whelan was their tormenter with seven points from play while Niall Burke and Shane Moloney also shared nine points.  And Galway also had plenty to spare when the teams met in last year’s league.

The accepted theory is that Galway will get better and should be good to make this a routine result.  Nobody believed they would hit the ground running after their trophy-laden exploits but an improved performance will be required for their eager supporters in Pearse Stadium.

If Offaly can push them like Antrim or Laois, it will shake off the Limerick result before they face those two teams seeking a quarter-final spot.  The result should be inevitable but it will be interesting to see how it is achieved.

Verdict: Galway

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