Offaly can give All-Ireland champions Galway a real test
Kevin Martin’s side will be primed for this game
Leinster Championship: Offaly v Galway
O’Connor Park, 7pm Saturday
The 2018 hurling championship begins on Saturday evening as Offaly host reigning All-Ireland Champions Galway at O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
Offaly began 2018 in bright fashion with a shock win over Dublin in Croke Park in the first round of the league, but they have disappointed since, with just one win, against Laois, and an 11-point loss against Galway in round three.
While Galway will have dreams of claiming back-to-back titles, Offaly will be looking the opposite direction as it looks almost certain to be themselves and Dublin in a relegation dogfight from the Leinster Championship.
Galway won’t be happy with their own league form, having failed to gain promotion from Division 1B, but many of their stars took an extended winter break and Micheal Donoghue will not have lost much sleep over that result.
Galway exited the league knockout stages against Wexford, and will need to improve significantly as they welcome Kilkenny to Pearse Stadium next.
Galway should have far too much firepower for Offaly, but Kevin Martin’s side will be primed for this game and will be hopeful of putting up a good fight. Eleven points separated the sides when they met during the league, and it could be closer this time.
Offaly showed in round one of the league when beating Dublin, that when they are really up for a game, they can play some quality hurling.
Since securing their 1B status, this game will have been on their minds for a long time as a chance to lay down a marker that Offaly are on an upward curve.
Martin’s side will have to keep things tight and try to frustrate Joe Canning and Conor Whelan and that should lead to a lower-scoring game than expected.
Galway will have marked this game as a prep run for their clash with Kilkenny and Offaly may be able to take advantage and keep within the handicap.
2pts 21-20 BoyleSports
Total points under 51.5
1pt 5-6 Paddy Power
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