KEVIN’S GOT FAITH

Irish Daily Mirror - - SPORT - BY PAT NOLAN irish­sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

OF­FALY man­ager Kevin Martin has pledged to take Gal­way on as he pre­pares his side for the “lion’s den” on Sun­day. Eas­ily the most com­fort­able af­ter­noon Gal­way en­joyed en route to last year’s All-ire­land hurl­ing ti­tle was the Le­in­ster semi-fi­nal vic­tory over Of­faly, when they fin­ished 19 points clear.

It fol­lowed a 6-23 to 1-12 win over the same op­po­si­tion in the first round of the League though then man­ager

Kevin Ryan em­ployed a dou­ble sweeper when the Cham­pi­onship clash came around later in the year.

Of­faly held Gal­way goal­less but still con­ceded a huge 0-33, a record points tally for a se­nior hurl­ing Cham­pi­onship game, which was beaten a fort­night later when Water­ford hit Of­faly for 1-35 amid sim­i­lar tac­tics. “That game doesn’t suit us, as it proved,” said Martin of the dou­ble sweeper. “We have to at­tack teams if we’re go­ing to get any­where in hurl­ing. “That’s the way I look at it. So it’ll be man on man against Gal­way and we’ll see how we fare out. We’re go­ing down to the lion’s den now and no­body ex­pects us to win. We’re go­ing out to try and win and we’ll prob­a­bly try out a cou­ple of play­ers as well to see are they up to the level.

“Just see where that takes us af­ter that. No­body ex­pects us to win so we’ll give what we can and the re­sult will look af­ter it­self then.”

Although they’ve started with two vic­to­ries from as many matches, Gal­way flat­tered to de­ceive against both Antrim and Laois hav­ing been on a team hol­i­day over the Christ­mas and New Year pe­riod.

How­ever, Martin ex­pects a marked im­prove­ment at Pearse Sta­dium this Sun­day.

“I was at the Laois game and Micheal Donoghue wasn’t happy at all with what was go­ing on on the side­line.

“You can be sure in the last two weeks they’re af­ter be­ing drilled and will be well up for our game, es­pe­cially when we’re go­ing to be play­ing them in the Cham­pi­onship this sum­mer.

“They’ll want to be putting down a marker for us too so we’re un­der no il­lu­sions.”

Martin en­joyed a whirl­wind start to his reign with a com­pre­hen­sive 13-point win over Dublin at Croke Park which saw ex­pec­ta­tions rocket ahead of the visit of Lim­er­ick the fol­low­ing week­end.

The Tul­lam­ore man be­lieves the hype af­fected his play­ers as Lim­er­ick coasted to a 17point vic­tory.

“While Dublin win was a great win it was against a weaker Dublin side. That Dublin side will be a to­tally dif­fer­ent side come the sum­mer.

“At the same time, the way we won that game, I was im­pressed with them and we know they can hurl.

“The me­dia were writ­ing about them the week af­ter that, blow­ing them up, it was very hard com­ing back down from a high like that, es­pe­cially when you’ve been wait­ing a long, long time.

“It was set up nicely for Lim­er­ick to come in un­der the radar as such, where it was go­ing to be hard for us to get back and find our feet and Lim­er­ick came and put a big, strong per­for­mance in. “You could see that they weren’t as fo­cused as they prob­a­bly should have been but that’s the way hurl­ing goes some­times.

“I have no prob­lem say­ing that they were seven or eight points the bet­ter team. “When we got a man sent off then they rail­roaded us al­to­gether.

“We missed a penalty and there was maybe three or four easy enough frees. It could have been a lot closer.”

Lim­er­ick Gal­way Of­faly Dublin Antrim Laois 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 +27 +10 -4 -12 -4 -17 4 4 2 2 0 0

BUSY John­ston plays two schools games this week

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