KEVIN’S GOT FAITH
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