Galway struck first blood for the new season with an emphatic 2-22 to 1-17 win over Cork in Sunday’s NHL final against Cork in Thurles.

The win will give the westerners a major boost ahead of their second season in the Leinster SHC, and manager John McIntyre was delighted with the result and the performance.

“We had demons to banish from the last two times we were in Thurles,” McIntyre told reporters afterwards.

“We let the game slip against Waterford in last year’s All-Ireland quarterfinal and we got well beaten by Tipperary here in the league. We did a lot with that victory.

“We’re going to savor the moment and I’m not going to trivialize the league by starting to talk about the championship. It was an important win for Galway and it was their first national silverware in six years so all-in-all, it’s a good day’s work.”

Galway centre-back Tony Og Regan also took great confidence from the nature of the win over Cork ahead of the May 29 clash with Wexford.

He said, “We were all disappointed losing the league final against Tipperary two years ago. It’s nice to come out of Thurles with a win and it’s a great lift ahead of the Leinster championship game against Wexford. We’re improving every week.”

Cork boss Denis Walsh was adamant afterwards that his team would learn from the defeat to Galway before they face Tipperary in the championship.

“This will have focused the minds ahead of the Tipperary game. We know where we stand, we know we’re moving well enough and we’ve a lot of players. We all have to get back to the drawing board,” said Walsh.

Clare Loses

CLARE boss Ger O’Loughlin is unhappy at the prospect of another season in the lower reaches of the NHL after losing Sunday’s NHL Division 2 final to Wexford by a score of 1-16 to 2-9.

“We are back in Division 2 and certainly we’re not looking forward to trying to get out of it again next year,” said O’Loughlin.

“I’d love if somebody came up with a solution and brought us back to Division 1 because I think we would hold our own. Trying to rebuild a team, I think we would rebuild much faster there.”

Winning Wexford boss Colm Bonnar backed O’Loughlin’s appeal and said, “They should be promoting hurling rather than demoting teams.

“To be fair Clare, I think, are too good to be back in Division 2. They’ve a young team and need to be in Division 1. There’s plenty of hurling in them.

“The GAA really needs to look at the hurling leagues and where they can develop. Clare unfortunately can’t develop in Division 2.”

Pay Players

CORK youngster Aisake O hAilpin has backed calls from his brother Sean Og on the GAA to introduce payment for players.

The former Aussie Rules player told The Irish Times, “I suppose the GAA does generate a bit of money. I think the players are the biggest reason for that. I see no reason why not.

“I don’t think any of the players would refuse money especially in this day and age, with work outside of sport and the amount of effort that goes into training and playing, games away from home and stuff. I’d be all for it.

“It could be, yeah, semi-pro. It’s kind of going that way anyway. Players do the drug testing and stuff and we’re training three or four times a week at least.”

Injury Woes

THE injury problems are mounting for Kerry boss Jack O’Connor after both Tomas O Se (knee) and Daniel Bohane (hamstring) picked up knocks playing for their clubs over the weekend.

O’Connor also has to contend with the retirement of All-Star defender Aidan O’Mahony who withdrew from the county squad last weekend. Kerry meet Tipperary in their Munster SFC opener on Sunday week.