Joe Kernan will embark on yet another chapter in his colourful managerial career to date when he makes his Championship debut as Galway boss on Sunday.
The former Armagh All Ireland winning supremo indicated at the outset of his reign with the Tribesmen that a Connacht title would be a priority in his first season in charge and he finds himself on the other side of the Atlantic in taking what he hopes will be the first step towards this goal.
New York will form the opposition in the Gaelic Grounds and although Galway cantered past their hosts there last October in winning the deferred FBD League final, Kernan is adamant that this result counts for nothing in terms of Sunday’s game.
The fact, too, that Gareth Bradshaw, Paul Conroy and Sean Armstrong are all exam-tied means he is without three leading players. In Conroy’s absence, Niall Coleman and Barry Cullinane will start at midfield while veteran forward Padraig Joyce will also get game time.
“We have been getting players back slowly but surely and I would hope that we can repeat our win of last year over New York so that we will get a crack at either Sligo or Mayo in the Connacht semi-final,” states Kernan (pictured left).
The free-scoring Michael Meehan, one of the best forwards in the country, is still recovering from a foot injury although he is hopeful of seeing action in the not too distant future.
“Michael actually proved our top scorer in the National League even though he only played in two-and-a-half games. That just goes to show what a valuable asset he is,” stresses Kernan.
While all Connacht eyes will be on New York, there will be considerable Ulster interest in the outcome of Sunday’s game, not least because Galway are rated among the dark horses for the All Ireland title.
The winners of meet Mayo or Sligo in the semi-final which is not scheduled until June 22, but Kernan will keep his squad in trim with a challenge fixture against Armagh on May 22 to mark the official opening of the Clonmore club’s new facilities.