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1 championship newcomer in Galway senior team to face Mayo

Goalkeeper Manus Breathnach is the only championship debutant in the Tribesmen outfit.

Galway's Manus Breathnach.
Galway's Manus Breathnach.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

MANUS BREATHNACH IS the only newcomer to senior championship football in the Galway side that will face Mayo in the Connacht championship next Sunday.

The goalkeeper from An Spidéal was between the posts for the Galway side that won the All-Ireland U21 title against Cavan two years ago.

He has featured extensively during the league this year and has been rewarded with a starting berth in the championship by manager Alan Mulholland.

The Galway boss has included only two members of the county’s U21 side that won the All-Ireland title last Saturday week with the captain of that team Fiontan O Curraoin named at midfield while Thomas Flynn starts at wing-forward.

Both O Curraoin and Flynn were also part of the Galway U21 team that claimed the 2011 All-Ireland U21 title and there are six other members of that side in the Tribesmen senior team – goalkeeper Breathnach, the full-back line of Johnny Duane, Colin Forde and Gary Sice, wing-forward Conor Doherty and corner-forward Danny Cummins.

From the Galway side that lost out to Antrim in last year’s championship, Breathnach, Forde, Sweeney, Coleman, Flynn and Cummins are the six newcomers with Adrian Faherty, the injured Finian Hanley, Gary O’Donnell, Tomas Fahy, the retired Joe Bergin and Mark Hehir the players to may way.

Interestingly Galway’s team contains only five survivors from the county’s last championship meeting with Mayo in 2011. Duane, Forde, Gareth Bradshaw, Sice and Paul Conroy are the players in question while Meehan and Cummins were brought on as substitutes for that game.

GALWAY: Manus Breathnach (An Spidéal); Johnny Duane (St James), Colin Forde (Killererin), Gary Sweeney (Mountbellew-Moylough); Gareth Bradshaw (Moycullen), Keith Kelly (Ballinasloe), Gary Sice (Corofin); Niall Coleman (Annaghdown), Fiontan O Curraoin (Micheal Breathnach); Thomas Flynn (Athenry), Paul Conroy (St James), Conor Doherty (Tuam Stars); Sean Armstrong (Salthill-Knocknacarra), Micheal Meehan (Caltra), Danny Cummins (Claregalway).

Micheal Meehan

But Galway are able to call on the services of Micheal Meehan this Sunday after the luckless attacker has regained fitness following a frustrating time with injuries in recent seasons. Mulholland has paid tribute to his attacker.

“Mike is a model footballer, he is the heart and soul of our panel and he is the role model for all the young fellas coming through, especially this under-21 crop. The longer we can keep Michael Meehan playing in Galway football the better it is for the whole culture of the senior panel.

“Where he is physically is not where he would love to be as regards the ability to train every week. He has adapted his training schedule to suit his body. Where we would be on the pitch three or four times a week, he is not there but that does not mean he is not training. He is getting work done in a different way so I am hoping that Mike is going to be able to produce his best form this season.

“I never doubted his commitment, his dedication, so no I am not surprised that Mike is still playing at this stage. A lesser human being wouldn’t be playing.”

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Michael Meehan.
Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Daithi Burke

One player from the county’s successful U21 side this year who is not starting on Sunday is centre-back Daithi Burke. The highly-rated youngster plays football for Corofin and hurling for Turloughmore and is coveted by both county’s senior setups. Galway hurling captain Fergal Moore, a club mate of Burke’s, admits he is a superb prospect.

“He’s been an up and coming star in Galway hurling and football for a number of years. He picked up an U21 medal playing centre-back a couple of weeks ago. He’s a brilliant hurler and he’s a brilliant footballer as well. He’s big decisions to make.

“I know he has been asked a few times to come in and he’s making up his mind himself. He’s a lot of demands and it’s probably a decision he’ll have to make choosing between sports and between teams coming down the tracks.”

Galway’s Daithi Burke (left)
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Galway’s Fergal Moore recovered after being knocked out in hurling league game

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Fintan O'Toole

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