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Home SPORT Galway GAA – Preview: LAOIS vs GALWAY (O'Moore Park, Saturday 7pm) 

Galway GAA – Preview: LAOIS vs GALWAY (O’Moore Park, Saturday 7pm)

Galway’s senior hurlers feature under lights in their second outing of the National Hurling League Division 1B when they’ll be strong favourites to account for Laois.

Micheal Donoghue’s team made hard work of their opener against Antrim before seven late points turned the tide. 

That was the Tribesmen’s first game since winning the All-Ireland last September but they’ll be expected to perform much better this time.

Galway beat Laois 3-31 to 1-11 in 2017 and a similar result can’t be discounted.  The visitors are 1/20 to emerge victorious while the hosts fetch odds as long as 11/1.  The draw is 33/1.

Only six of the All-Ireland winning team started against Antrim but they had to call in the reserves when they trailed 1-15 to 1-12 with 15 minutes remaining.  John Hanbury, Cathal Mannion and Conor Cooney were among the scores as Galway avoided a shock loss.

They were without captain David Burke and Joe Canning but Donoghue has promoted seven of last year’s under 21 squad.  Brian Concannon, making his debut in Pearse Stadium, struck the goal before half-time that ultimately proved the difference.

Laois have struggled in recent years even if they beat Offaly in the 2015 championship and have flirted with relegation as they try establish themselves as a top-12 team.

Eamonn Kelly is in his second year and they’ll pinpoint Division One survival and the Joe McDonagh Cup as their key targets for 2018.

Despite losing 1-25 to 0-18 against Limerick last week, captain Ross King put in a strong display with 11 points with Paddy Purcell and keeper Enda Rowland getting a brace apiece.

But injuries to key personnel like Cahir Healy, Picky Maher, Dwane Palmer and Ryan Mullaney leaves them light for the new few months.

Kelly’s young charges will look to survive this contest knowing they can compete better against Antrim, Dublin and Offaly. For Galway, they’re in a no-win situation expected to run up a double-digit margin.

Donoghue won’t care once they’ve their second win secured but question marks will carry Galway if they have another close shave.

Verdict: Galway

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